Macmillan, Bolcom, Copland, Schnittke, Schnittkeschnittke, Dresher

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bolcom,Copland,Dresher,Macmillan,Schnittke,Schnittkeschnittke
LABELS: BMG Catalyst
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Kiss on Wood
WORKS: Kiss on Wood; Violin Sonata No. 2; Nocturne; Violin Sonata No. 1; Double Ikat – Part 2
PERFORMER: Maria Bachmann (violin)Jon Klibonoff (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 62668 2 DDD
‘Kiss on Wood’, far from being a jokey title, turns out to be the name of James MacMillan’s recent work for violin and piano, and a very thoughtful piece it is, too, thoughtfully played. This disc of wide-ranging 20th-century repertory for violin and piano comes from the trend-setting arm of BMG, and trendy packaging might suggest a cover-up of another kind. But Bachmann is a violinist of distinction. Time and again I was caught up by the sheer beauty of sound and expressiveness of the playing, whether in the Adagio of William Bolcom’s Second Sonata or the Largo of Schnittke’s First. The ‘smoochiness’ of Bolcom’s ‘Summer Dreams’ and ‘In Memory of Joe Venuti’ (the great jazz violinist who died as Bolcom was writing his sonata) is exactly captured by Bachmann with no sense of sentimentality. Indeed the Bolcom is a real find, at once smokey and tough. Schnittke’s technically demanding early Sonata particularly allows Klibonoff to show his impressive mettle; their strong, well-integrated performance reveals the familiarity and confidence of a chamber-music partnership. Paul Dresher’s synthesised orientalism in his Double Ikat – Part 2 disappoints in an otherwise very valuable disc. Annette Morreau