RALPH SHAPEY (1921-2002): Violin and Piano: Five, Millenium Designs, Solo Violin: Mann Soli, Partita, Etchings.
Catalogue Number: 01J077
Reference: CRC 2900
Description: Shapey described himself as 'a classicist structurally, a romantic emotionally and a modernist harmonically', which succinctly sums up what one should expect to hear in these pieces for his own instrument spanning much of his mature career. Strict structures, often straightforwardly classical in form, and detailed, intricate though always immaculately clear counterpoint, are primary characteristics of this music, alongside a formidable exploitation of violin technique. Several of the works - the early Etchings, the much later Mann Soli - are variations, and both here and in the works consisting of independent movements, the sense of clearly delineated and strongly contrasting characters readily engages attention throughout. In a broader sense the contrast between timelessness and rhythmically precisely defined structures lends Shapey's music an emotional tension, a sense of mystery and ritual, heightened by the tension between parts in his polyphonic writing. Undoubtedly a major and original figure, and amply deserving of attention. Miranda Cuckson (violin), Blair McMullen (piano).