GRAZYNA BACEWICZ (1909-1969): Violin Sonata No. 4, GALINA USTVOLSKAYA (1919-2006): Violin Sonata, JENNIFER HIGDON (b.1962): String Poetic, LILI BOULANGER (1883-1918): Nocturne, d’un Matin de Printemps.
Catalogue Number: 07X043
Label: Hännsler Classic
Description: Four superb works by first-rate composers. Oh, and they were (are) all women. Nothing from the pen of the amazingly gifted younger Boulanger sister is less than exquisite, including this lovely Nocturne; both this and the original version of D’un Matin de Printemps have their impressionistic side, but the latter work points intriguingly towards a more personal harmonic idiom and a surprisingly intense degree of expression. This description works for Bacewicz' robust 4th Sonata too, neoclassically proportioned and full-bloodedly Romantic in expression. Ustvolskaya's 1952 Sonata is simply devastating in its utter denial and despair. Pre-dating the unbridled vehemence of her later works, this piece avoids the searing clusters of the last piano sonatas, but even in its relatively tonal language related to that of her teacher, Shostakovich (leaving aside the complexity of all aspects of that relationship), it manages to evoke furious protest alternating with complete desolation- the frozen hopelessness of the Gulags and the expectation of the 3am knock on the door. The final section of footsteps in the snow accompanied by toneless wooden knocking is chilling, the whole piece redolent of the enforced outsider composer’s condemnation of the strictures imposed on art and life by the regime. Higdon's pieces are characteristically exuberant and quirky, with a degree of hectic abandon - aside from the second, "Nocturne", a heartfelt "song without words" of great depth and deceptive restraint and simplicity. Elsewhere, drumming effects on muted piano strings enliven the textures of a mysteriously exotic Impressionistic landscape evoked in unfamiliar modes and two boisterous, jazzily syncopated movements, with a cheerfully whirring perpetual motion machine thrown in for good measure. Louise Chisson (violin), Tamara Atschba (piano).