Works for Violin by Elliott Carter, Tod Machover, John Melby, and Ralph Shapey
Maryvonne Le Dizes-Richard, violin; Jean-Claude Henriot, piano
This recording contains four works for violin by four disparate American composers with unique conceptions of the instrument and its possibilities, technical and expressive. Elliott Carter's Riconoscenza is a short work for unaccompanied violin imbued with a craggy, rough-hewn grandeur and arching melodic lines characteristic of his mature music. Fantasy for Violin and Piano by Ralph Shapey (b. 1921) typifies the unusual blend of astringency and lyricism of his dense, passionate and deeply rewarding music.
The Concerto for Violin and Computer-Synthesized Tape by John Melby (b. 1941) sets the violin against an electronic backdrop to arresting effect. Tod Machover (b. 1953) describes the title work, Hidden Sparks,, for solo violin, as "... [an] attempt to unite highly diverse musical materials through a unified and expressive form." Although the writing for violin is the most exploratory on this recording (with many glissandos, unusual bowings, and what Machover calls "harsh Bartok pizzicatos"), the work is not so much experimental as it is highly expressive. All in all, this unusual collection contains some engrossing sonic visions of both American music and twentieth-century violin playing.