Ravel, Falla, Schnittke, Bart—k & Shankar

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Bartók & Shankar,Falla,Ravel,Schnittke
LABELS: Warner
ALBUM TITLE: East Meets West
WORKS: Works by Ravel, Falla, Schnittke, Bartók & Shankar
PERFORMER: Daniel Hope (violin), Sebastian Knauer (piano, Luthéal piano), Gaurav Mazumdar (sitar), Asok Chakraborty (tabla), Gilda Sebastian (tanpura)
CATALOGUE NO: 2564-61329-2
Yehudi Menuhin’s Sixties collaboration with Ravi Shankar had a catchy but honest title: West Meets East. The motivation was Western and the one who did the fitting-in was Menuhin. Shankar produced compositions to imitate and to improvise on. Quaint, but it worked, and you can understand why Daniel Hope wanted to do it again. But a straight reproduction of the same pieces, Enescu-style twirls and all, is just for beginners’ classes. Where’s the adventure? The players, who include a lively sitarist recommended by Shankar, are good enough to make their own music. This well-researched album of historical oddities includes the recorded premiere of a Sonata that Alfred Schnittke wrote at 20. With hindsight, the bizarre opening movement is in character. Its first half worries away at the same rhythm with constantly changing melodic outlines – a smart conceit, but ultimately wearing – and then switches to colossal-build-up-and-collapse mode. A short theme and variations follows. For the rest, the novelty is the Luthéal, a reconstructed Twenties piano with stops for harpsichord and cimbalom sounds. Ravel intended Tzigane for it. The effects aren’t likely to displace sampling technology, and Sebastian Knauer uses them sparingly. Anyway, the dominant feature is Hope’s polished but rather aggressive playing, sometimes recorded uncomfortably close. Robert Maycock

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