Anthony Marwood Gives Voice to Stravinsky
Stravinsky: Complete Music for Violin and Piano, Anthony Marwood, violin; Thomas Adés, piano (Hyperion)
In his liner notes to this stellar recording, Stephen Walsh points out that Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971) had a love-hate relationship with the string section, and with violins in particular, judging their tone to be “too evocative” of the human voice. That view changed in 1928 when the great Russian composer penned his tender Apollo ballet score.
This two-CD set compiles movements from various Stravinsky works—including The Firebird, Pulcinella, The Fairy’s Kiss, and Petrushka, among others, as well as other solo violin and duo pieces.
On this recording, Anthony Marwood, the acclaimed British violinist with the Florestan Trio, teams up with pianist and composer Thomas Adés (Marwood, Adés, and cellist Steven Isserlis performed recently as a trio at a Carnegie Hall concert reviewed in the June issue of Strings).
Marwood brings much emotion to these remarkable works, which are alternately charming and imbued with a deep sense of mystery, adding ornamented flourishes, tight vibrato, or a dry tone to complement a wide range of moods, from cool to fiery.
Marwood's intelligent, but emotionally charged, performances on his 1736 Bergonzi never feel forced or melodramatic, even in the face of the often weighty emotional debt that Stravinsky can pack into a passage. His command of harmonics lends a subtle sense of flight to "Prelude et Ronde des princesses," from an arrangement of the ballet The Firebird.
Indeed, Marwood’s own emotional range is quite impressive: his playing is delicate and nuanced in the appropriately titled "Pastorale," and fraught with urgency throughout the five movements of the Beethoven-esque Duo concertant, which Stravinsky once said were created “under the influence of Virgil’s idylls.”
It takes a violinist of high caliber to give voice to such poetic masterworks and Marwood delivers the goods time and again. I've seldom heard Stavinsky sound so spectacular.