Ysaÿe’s Violin Sonatas Smolder Under Weintraub

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YSAŸE: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1-6 / Javier Weintraub, violinist / Acoua 507

Back on March 8 of this year, I wrote a rave review of Tianwa Yang’s recording of these sonatas, proclaiming them the the best I’d ever heard. I still stand by that judgment, but in listening to Argentinian violinist Javier Weintraub play them I am also quite impressed. He has found something different, something darker and more intimate. Whereas Yang gives us playing at or near white heat, Weintraub smolders beneath the surface. He has obviously lived with and though about this music a great deal; he is certainly not just “reading” through the score.

Moreover, he is willing to take risks in his playing, even if this means a less-than-smooth sound as in the last movement of the first sonata. You get the impression that he’s not holding back anything emotionally, but that he occasionally chooses to subjugate his passion for the sake of something boiling just beneath the surface. It’s like Eddie Condon’s description of the playing of Bix Beiderbecke, “like capping a geyser.” In some of the virtuosic passages, i.e. the beginning of the last movement of the Sonata No. 2, Weintraub uncaps that geyser, suddenly spouting notes like a demon unleashed. He almost has a Gypsy feel to his playing in moments like this.

This is violin playing of an extremely high level. I was continually engaged while listening, and that is always a sure sign that the performer has a firm grasp of his or her material. Recommended as an alternative to the Yang recordings.

No, it’s not a lengthy review, but I said what I wanted to say about it!

—© 2017 Lynn René Bayley

Follow me on Twitter! @Artmusiclounge

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