At 1st sight, they appear to have nothing in common – but disregarding the stylistic elements & a difference of 2 centuries, you soon recognize that both are in a sense, musical architects, who as piano virtuosos were equally interested in miniature forms & inspired by folk music. On the 1 hand you have Scarlatti, who, after moving to Spain in 1729 composed almost exclusively for harpsichord & integrated elements of Spanish folklore into his compositions in an experimental way; on the other hand Bartk, who boosted the recognition of the rich native Hungarian peasant songs to an independent folk art, & was also influenced by Arabic folk music.
This is the fourth recording by Patricia Kopatchinskaja on naïve; the second in the concerto repertoire. The collaboration with conductor/composer Peter Eötvos and the programme is an intense series of connections. Between Bartok, Ligeti, Eotvos and Kopatchinskaja, there are many links: Hungary, the land of the 3 composers featured; Peter Eötvos was the conductor of the first performance of the second version of Ligeti violin concerto, in 1992, with Ensemble Modern; Patricia Kopatchinakaja and Peter Eötvös have been working together for 4 years, performing several concertos, including those recorded here.
There are several reasons to own this Vox Box 2CD set. For the first, it includes five great violin concertos in some of the very best performances in their discography. For the second, Ivry Gitlis (born 1922) is a great living violinist and these recordings made in early 1950s show his art in the best way, when Ivry's violin sounded powerful and brilliant.
It usually takes about ten seconds to identify Ivry Gitlis' playing. No offense intended, but he is perhaps one of the most "anti-Classical" violinists, or the one whom you would least like to hear playing the Bach solo partitas. His free-wheeling approach to vibrato and intonation are not what wins praise in conservatories and awards at competitions these days. Often, it is said that Gitlis sounds like a gypsy violinist. There's nothing wrong with that, though, at least in certain repertoire. Gitlis takes us back to a time when classical music and musicianship were a little more wild and unpredictable than they are today.
On Soli, Tamsin Waley-Cohen's 2015 release on Signum Classics, the violinist explores modernist repertoire composed between 1944 and 2005. Because these solo violin pieces by Béla Bartók, George Benjamin, Krzysztof Penderecki, Elliott Carter, and György Kurtág are challenging for both the player and the listener, one should approach this CD with some awareness that they reflect different phases of the avant-garde movement that dominated music in the last half of the 20th century. In quieter selections where the moods are primarily brooding or lyrical, Waley-Cohen produces a vibrant tone and smooth phrasing that make her playing easy to appreciate, even when the music isn't recognizably tonal. However, in louder, dissonant passages, notably in sections of the Bartók Sonata, Benjamin's Canon for Sally, Carter's Remembering Aaron, and Kurtág's Anziksz Kellerannanak, the close microphone placement makes her bowing sound overly resinous and scratchy, which can be hard to enjoy. Even so, few violinists dare approach this bracing material, and Waley-Cohen is to be commended for devoting a whole album to such cutting-edge pieces solely on her terms, without making compromises.