Kalnits & Csányi-Wills Play Weinberg


WEINBERG: Violin Sonatas Nos. 3 & 6.* Solo Violin Sonata No. 3 / Yuri Kalnits, vln; *Michael Csányi-Wills, pno / Toccata Classics TOCC0096

The excellent violinist Yuri Kalnits, whose recordings of the Weinberg Solo Violin Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2 I value very highly, presents here the third of these solo sonatas in addition to the violin-piano sonatas Nos. 3 & 6.

Before starting this review, however, I need to explain my position. Yes, I sometimes collect alternate performances of the same works when each is different in musical approach, but with 4 CD racks filled with discs, I only have so much space to work with. Since I already own the complete Weinberg violin-piano sonatas in an excellent set by Grigory Kalinovsky and Tatiana Goncharova on Naxos, I unfortunately need to make informed decisions on what to keep, and to date it has only been Kalnits’ solo sonatas that I’ve found the best performances. This doesn’t mean that you need to make the same hard choices that I do, and as you will see in the following review, I really enjoyed Kalnits’ performances very much.

Kalnits takes a somewhat more Romantic view towards Weinberg than is generally the case nowadays, though he does not gloss over the unusual rhythms of the scores. In this he is aided by pianist Michael Csányi-Wills, who is also a composer (I reviewed an album of his orchestral songs way back in October 2016). These two artists work hand-in-glove to present these scores in an unusually unified manner, tying the themes together with great acuity and playing with a superb legato. A good example is the second-movement “Andantino” from the Violin Sonata No. 3; Csányi-Wills picks out the quirky single-note theme with unusual delicacy and tenderness, as if caressing every note, and when Kalnitz enters on the violin he, too, plays very tenderly. The duo also does an excellent job of uniting the different tempi in the long third movement, which opens as an “Allegretto cantabile” before moving into a “Lento (quasi adagio).”

And yet, it seemed to me that it was in the solo violin sonata No. 3 where Kalnits played with a gutsier, more involved feeling, which I admired very much. This is a work that’s not divided into movements, but rather sections: 1) [quaver] = 208 (bars 1-71), 2) [crotchet] = 84; molto espressivo (bars 72-136), 3) [crotchet] = 63 (bars 137-81), etc., eight sections in all. It’s a fascinating piece, typical of later Weinberg when his music fell less into conventional forms but rather assumed shapes of their own, with the rhythmic movement dictating the themes and motifs rather than the other way around.

The Violin-Piano Sonata No.6 is also a later work (Op. 136b), and here again Weinberg employs edgy, rhythmically serrated figures, played solo by the violin for two minutes and three seconds before the piano enters, very high up in the altissimo range of the keyboard, playing single-note figures in an ostinato rhythm, becoming somewhat busier as the music increases in intensity. Yet when Csányi-Wills moves down to the middle of the keyboard, around the 4:18 mark, he plays with a more legato feel, easing the tensions somewhat. But this is an angst-filled sonata, and the duo play it brilliantly.

Thus I can certainly recommend this disc, most especially for the solo Sonata No. 3 but also for their reading of the Violin Sonata No. 6. Excellent playing, and extremely well recorded.

—© 2021 Lynn René Bayley

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