Eisler, Roger, Walter

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COMPOSERS: Eisler,Roger,Walter
LABELS: Classic Talent
WORKS: Violin Sonata (Die Reisesonate); Violin Sonata, Op. 44; Violin Sonata
PERFORMER: Hagai Shaham (violin), Arnon Erez (piano)
Although this disc claims to feature sonatas by three ‘Viennese Jewish Composers’, only the relatively unknown Kurt Roger (1895-1966) was born in the Austrian capital. Yet given the obvious interest of the programme, it seems pointless to split hairs on such matters. Particular curiosity will surely be aroused by Roger’s Sonata – a fluent and memorable work composed in exile in the United States in 1944. Despite the gently sardonic overtones of the second movement Waltz, its warmly late-Romantic idiom appears to recall an earlier, less troubled era and shares similar stylistic traits with the expansive and extravagantly conceived 1908 Sonata by the young Bruno Walter. The Eisler, also a product of exile, provides a stark contrast in its comparative economy of design and in its angry, jagged melodic lines. Hagai Shaham and Arnon Erez deliver an exciting and imaginatively shaped performance of the Eisler, easily outshining a rival version on Berlin Classics in terms of urgency. The closely miked recording enhances the work’s immediacy of impact, but is perhaps less appropriate for the Roger and Walter. Fortunately, the clinical sound doesn’t detract from the passion and warmth of the playing, with Shaham’s gorgeously opulent tone sounding especially persuasive in the Roger. Erik Levi