ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Elogio Per Un’ombra
PERFORMER: Michelle Makarski (violin), Thomas Larcher (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 465 337-2
It’s a curious concept – the movements of an 18th-century sonata, Tartini’s seventh for solo violin, which ends with a massive set of variations, reordered and dispersed among an Italian-American collection of 20th-century violin pieces with and without piano – and it says a great deal for the integrity and persuasive power of Michelle Makarski’s playing that she makes the whole album cohere as well as it does. Goffredo Petrassi’s stark, impassioned Elogio per un’ombra, written in 1971 as a memorial to his teacher Casella, is the emotional pivot of the sequence, and Makarski conjures up every particle of the ambiguity and sense of gratitude that informs the piece; it’s also fearsomely difficult to play, but she surmounts all its technical and colouristic challenges as confidently as she tackles all the other intricacies in her recital.
She includes a group of four of George Rochberg’s Caprice Variations, part of a cycle of 51 studies that sets out to exploit every facet of the violin’s potential alongside Elliott Carter’s 80th birthday tribute to Petrassi, while the works with piano are connected, too: Berio wrote his beautifully judged but rather faceless Two Pieces while studying with Dallapiccola, whose Two Pieces are perfectly crafted and quietly personal – Makarski and Thomas Larcher catch their control and intimacy perfectly. Andrew Clements