Classical Reissue Reviews

Violist Bernard Zaslav in sonatas by FRANCK, MILHAUD, BABBITT, 4 Songs by DVORAK, Meditation by BLOCH (Music&Arts)

The Zaslav viola/piano duo, in recordings from mid-1970s

Published on June 2, 2005

Violist Bernard Zaslav in sonatas by FRANCK, MILHAUD, BABBITT, 4 Songs by DVORAK, Meditation by BLOCH (Music&Arts)
FRANCK: Sonata in A Major (arr. B. Zaslav); MILHAUD: Second
Sonata for Viola and Piano; DVORAK: 4 Songs, Op. 2; BLOCH: Meditation
and Processional; Suite for Viola Solo; BABBITT: Composition for Viola
and Piano

Bernard Zaslav, viola/Naomi Zaslav, piano
Music & Arts CD-1151  72:22 (Distrib. Albany)****:

This recital of viola music is partially a collation of previous issued
materials from M&A, along with Franck, Milhaud, and Babbittt works
recorded  1974-75. The Dvorak transcriptions of Op. 2 allow
Zaslav, a member of the Kohon String Quartet, to show off his legato
and his long line. The adaptation of the Franck for viola simply
transposes octave placement of the melodic lines without altering the
emotional content. The Meditation by Bloch (1951) was composed for
Milton Preves of the Chicago Symphony, while the Suite for Viola Solo
in C Minor remained unfinished at the time of the composer‚s death in
1958. Zaslav felt that his use of upward scales and phrasing made as
good an end to the four-movement piece as any. Often an imitation of
Bach’s part-writing, the piece owes its third movement to Schoenberg’s
12-tone technique. Those who know the tone and approach of fellow
violist William Primrose in this music will find a kindred spirit in
Zaslav.

The Babbitt Composition (1950) might appear one of the serialist’s more
accessible pieces, but its rigor and dry emotional surface prove a
merely academic exercise, a bravura piece born from the pages of T.S.
Eliot, intricate musical cigarette smoke. The most natural expression
for the viola is the Milhaud Sonata dedicated to Germain Prevost of the
Pro Arte Quartet. Here and in the Franck, the Zaslav Duo (nee 1962)
makes some real sparks, with its alternately suave and ironic riffs.
Naomi Zaslav, a pupil of Rosina Lhevinne, demonstrates that light hand
and digital flexibility Lhevinne promoted at Juilliard. Nice disc,
limited audience.

–Gary Lemco




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