Philippe Quint Adds Star Quality to John Corigliano's 'Red Violin Caprices'
John Corigliano: The Red Violin Caprices for violin solo (premiere recording); Sonata for Violin and Piano. Virgil Thomson: Three Portraits; Five Ladies; Eight Portraits, Philippe Quint, violin; William Wolfram, piano (Naxos American Classics)?
John Corigliano knows how to make the most of a good thing. Having won an Oscar for best original score for the 1997 film The Red Violin, he later used the material for a chaconne and a violin concerto, all given vibrant life by Joshua Bell's splendid performances. Now he has produced yet another incarnation.The Caprices (2002) consist of a slow, dreamy theme and five variations contrasting in tempo, mood, tonality, texture, and the use of every kind of instrumental firework: multiple stops, glissandi, runs at top speed, left-hand pizzicato, fancy bowings, barriolage. In violinist Philippe Quint, Corigliano (b. 1938) has found another virtuoso who can toss off all these and more with ease and aplomb. Quint's tone is gorgeous, even in the stratosphere, but he has a disconcerting habit of tearing off loud notes with an accent, perhaps in an excess of unbridled passion.
Meanwhile, Corigliano's Violin and Piano Sonata (1963) shows the influence of Hindemith and Copland, but its pungent, syncopated rhythms and long, singing melodies have made it a repertory staple. It is dedicated to the composer's father, the distinguished late concertmaster, not, as the booklet states, "a violinist" of the New York Philharmonic.
Virgil Thomson's Portraits consist of brief miniatures, each supposedly a character sketch of a real person. The first suite was transcribed for violin and piano from the original piano version by Samuel Dushkin. The last piece is for violin alone, as is the entire third suite. The pieces are all tonal and pleasant and, though they vary in tempo, mood, texture, and character, basically uneventful. The performers bring admirable commitment to these trifles and do their best to underline the contrasts.
On this record, the playing's the thing.