Stravinsky’s collaboration with the violinist Samuel Dushkin was a great artistic success, generating new works for the repertoire as well as arrangements of some of the composer’s most tuneful and popular works. Of these arrangements, Dushkin wrote that Stravinsky seemed ‘to go back to the essence of the music and rewrite or recreate the music in the spirit of the new instrument’. Reviewing the current performers in The Independent, Bayan Northcott writes that ‘these are no ordinary transcriptions. In reducing items from The Firebird or The Fairy’s Kiss to the violin and piano medium, Stravinsky rethought and respaced their every chord’.
Considering the extraordinary talent assembled for Tony Williams' second Blue Note date as a leader, this could have been a landmark session. Unfortunately, it's not. Spring isn't totally forgettable; on the contrary, the fire expected by members of the Miles Davis Quintet (Williams, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter), all thoroughly influenced by "the new thing," were unleashed completely from Miles' tight rein. Add tenor saxophonist Sam Rivers and Albert Ayler bassist Gary Peacock into this mix and that influence thrived. However, the five Tony Williams compositions (including the drum only "Echo") often failed to provoke the musicians into reaching crucial unity, making Spring haphazard, falling short of the expected goal.
The viola works on this recording fuse lyricism with virtuosity, and sometimes invoke folkloric moments as well as more rhapsodic flights. Martinů’s 1955 Sonata plays on elements of folk music and rhapsody, as well as a toccata-like intensity and a pervasive feeling of nostalgia. Kodály’s Adagio is an early work, highly expressive and richly romantic, whilst his compatriot Dohnányi wrote a Sonata of mature distinction, employing variations and transformed themes to magical effect. Joachim, upholder of the German violin school, also composed, and in his Hebrew Melodies crafts great pathos, whilst Enescu’s Concertstück fuses the lyrical with the dashing, as befits a competition test piece.