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Monday, January 29, 2018

Chin-Yi Lin, Zachary Lopes, American Sonatas for Violin and Piano, Bolcom, Corigliano, Ives

The "Americana" strain of Modernist American music began with Charles Ives (1874-1954) and continues through to today. One might note an initial peak in that sort of composition in the primary years of Aaron Copland's output. Yet the folkways of American musical life is sufficiently rich and varied that it is never far from earshot.

We get an ample sampling of some important works with an Americana flavor on American Sonatas for Violin and Piano (MSR Classics MS 1553). Ching-Yi Lin on violin and Zachary Lopes on piano turn in some marvelously fresh performances on three sonatas here. The program begins with Ives and his "Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano" (c. 1914), then moves to William Bolcom (b. 1938) and his "Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano" and finally lands on John Corigliano (b. 1938) and his 1962-63 "Sonata for Violin and Piano."

The Americana element is present in Ives with his hymn tune transformations that modulate unexpectedly and deliciously. Bolcom makes use of two blues motifs that become a part of a Modernist matrix. Corigliano takes folk hymn like melodics and does his own Modernist transformation. Nothing quite sounds deliberately folkish yet the impression lingers nevertheless.

All the works call for a good deal of subtle interpretation. The Corigliano finale and its exuberance sums it up. It is not a music of gloom but more an exploded barn traveling through space. Each part is necessary because a part of an earlier whole. Yet the parts weave in such complex and gratifying ways that even after 20 listens you still have much to discover and affirm.

Lin is a very mellifluous and singing voice on the violin; Lopes spells her with character and depth.

American Sonatas gives much needed air and dimension to three substantial works. What you can hear over time in these performances makes it all very much worthwhile. Recommended.

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