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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Yuuko Shiokawa, Andras Schiff, Bach, Busoni, Beethoven

Fine  chamber works played with the ultimate artistry? It is like an excellent vintage of wine. If you know what you seek, you get it at the first taste, so with violinist Yuuko Shiokawa and pianist Andras Schiff in their new recording of Bach, Busoni, Beethoven (ECM New Series 2510). At the first listen you know right away that you are in the presence of exceptional music making.

And there is no letup, regardless of how many times you listen. The first reason for that is an unusual and worthy mix of works: Bach's Sonata No. 3 in E major for Violin and Keyboard, Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924) and his Sonata No. 2 in e minor for violin and piano, and Beethoven's Sonata No. 10 in G major for Violin and Piano. The big surprise perhaps is the excellence of the Busoni, reminding us that he was no slouch, not at all. It is a fine work that fits in well with the sublimity of the Bach and the heroic inventiveness of the Beethoven.

And the performances are exceptional without exception. Shiokawa plays it all with a sweetness and light and Schiff responds with equally inspired pianism. The Bach gives notice that there indeed can be a reflective and subtle reading of the beautiful lines of Bach at his finest. There is plenty of mindful feeling in all the performances, but also a kind of transcendence, so that you grasp the feeling yet also join in on the musical journey to ever more subtle concordances.

It is a remarkable disc. The music sings away without fail. The compositions are brilliant, each in their own way; the performances as musically profound as you could ask for. This makes a fabulous holiday gift for yourself or someone you care about! Phenomenal.

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