JOSÉ SEREBRIER (b.1938): Sonata for Solo Violin, Op. 1, M.M.P. for Flute and Cello, Suite for Solo Cello, at dusk, in shadows… for Solo Flute, If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking for Horn, Violin and Narrator, Sonata for Solo Viola, Nostalgia (transcr. solo violin Elmira Darvarova).

Catalogue Number: 12X045

Label: Affetto

Reference: AF2104

Format: CD

Price: $16.98

Description: The illustrious conductor-composer has contributed prolifically to both crafts from his childhood to the present day, and this hugely appealing disc of solo and small ensemble pieces sheds light on one aspect of his creative output. Serebrier was a prodigy to rival Mozart or Busoni; his conducting début was at the age of 11, and even more astonishingly, the apparently fully mature, brilliantly written, emotionally gripping Sonata for Solo Violin was written when he was 9 and had just started to take violin lessons, of his own volition. It seems incomprehensible that this taut, single-movement work of some 11 minutes, full of double-stopping and bravura expressive drama could have been written by a child, even if he did continue to refine it for a couple of years while searching for a suitably encouraging violin teacher. The young composer must have listened to a good deal of violin music and absorbed it with a savant's gift; you can hear the influences - somewhat - but the work’s originality is as remarkable as its precocity. The Viola Sonata was written seven years later, by which time Serebrier had discovered and idolized Ysaÿe. Technically sophisticated, this sonata explores melody and folk-derived dance, suggesting an historical programme of pastoral life. The much more recent (2006) Cello Suite draws on influences from Serebrier's native Uruguay, with inventive writing in movements evoking a melancholy soliloquy, a darkly seductive tango, a pizzicato scherzo incorporating Bartók pizzicati like percussion, a pleading love song, and a finale "Moto perpetuum" described by the composer as “a frenetic show of virtuosity”. Despite its brevity, If I can stop one heart from breaking, after Emily Dickinson, is a powerfully affecting little lyric drama, with a lonely, Mahlerian horn in duet with a passionate, pleading violin. Nostalgia was written last year, to be included in an album reflecting feelings of loneliness and frustration with the prolonged tragedy of the global pandemic. The work’s Slavic character, elegiac mood, and expressive intensity are typical of Serebrier, bringing the wheel full circle from his earliest composition to the present day. Elmira Darvarova (violin), Ronald Carbone (viola), Samuel Magill (cello), Lucian Rinando (flute), Howard Wall (horn).


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