Classical CD Reviews

JOHN CORIGLIANO: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra “The Red Violin”; Sonata for Violin and Piano – Joshua Bell, violin/Baltimore Symphony/ Marin Alsop (Con.); Joshua Bell, violin/Jeremy Denk, piano (Sonata) – Sony Classical

Nearly ten years after the success of The Red Violin film, the main theme from its soundtrack has been expanded into a four-movement concerto.

Published on September 3, 2007

JOHN CORIGLIANO: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra “The Red Violin”; Sonata for Violin and Piano – Joshua Bell, violin/Baltimore Symphony/ Marin Alsop (Con.); Joshua Bell, violin/Jeremy Denk, piano (Sonata) – Sony Classical
JOHN CORIGLIANO: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra “The Red Violin”; Sonata for Violin and Piano – Joshua Bell, violin/Baltimore Symphony/ Marin Alsop (Con.); Joshua Bell, violin/Jeremy Denk, piano (Sonata) – Sony Classical 82876 88060-2, 1 hr. **** [Street date- 9/4/07]:

Nearly a decade ago virtuoso violin Bell was musical consultant and soloist in the soundtrack for the film The Red Violin. He selected John Corigliano to write the score for the film, and the result was a seven-minute Chaconne whose theme of seven rising chords was used thruout the film. It’s rare for a film score to spawn a concerto, but that’s what has occurred with The Red Violin, and this is the premiere recording of the concerto.

Corigliano won an Academy Award in 1999 for The Red Violin score, and said in his acceptance speech he wanted to develop the chaconne into a large work. This concerto is it. The chaconne became the first movement, and he composed three more. The second is a dramatic scherzo, third reintroduces the film’s main theme, and the fourth is an enormous, nearly atonal sonic crunch out of which various pitches slowly emerge.  Corigliano describes it as almost like the distortion heard on a rock guitar. This final movement features a breathless race between the soloist and orchestra, concluding in a restatement of the main chaconne theme.

The Violin Sonata is a flashy, jazz-infused piece in the style of some of Leonard Bernstein’s violin works.  Versatility being one of Bell’s primary qualities, giving the Sonata a superb performance comes naturally to the violinist. The UK may have its can-do-anything-superbly violin star in Nigel Kennedy, but the U.S. has Joshua Bell. Sonics are fine, though I feel that Corigliano’s complex scores would be even better displayed in hi-res SACD surround.

 - John Sunier




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