Violin Declamations from the Twilight of the Workers’ Paradise – Elmira Darvarova

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An empire in collapse. A daring escapee.
A deeply personal program of music from a time of turmoil — and hope.

Violinist Elmira Darvarova was communist Bulgaria’s worst-kept artistic secret. News of the young virtuoso’s talent had circulated in the West during the 1970s — even coming to the attention of Jascha Heifetz. An artistic collaboration with legendary cellist János Starker led to her daring escape from Bulgaria. She emigrated to the United States, where she eventually became the concertmaster of the MET Orchestra and founder of the New York Chamber Music Festival. Darvarova has extensively recorded both classical and world music, championing scandalously underexposed works by such composers as David Amram, Amanda Maier, Franco Alfano, and Joseph Marx.

Violin Declamations from the Twilight of the Workers’ Paradise is her most personal recording to date — a program of solo violin works from the waning years of the Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union by composers, including several that had been denounced as dissidents in their own countries, whose music was exposing the cracks in the “glorious workers’ revolution” — but also expressing glimmers of hope. The program includes four world premiere recordings. Darvarova also includes a detailed essay on the music and a first-hand account of artistic life behind the Iron Curtain.

Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978): Sonata-Monologue for solo violin (1975)
Sylvie Bodorova (b.1954):Dža More – Gypsy Ballad (1990)
Grigory Zaborov (1935-1985): Improvisation (1978)
Afrodita Kathmeridou (b. 1956): Two Miniatures for solo violin (1978) — World Premiere Recording
Alfred Schnittke (1934-1998): Praeludium in memoriam D. Shostakovich (1975)
Dmitri Smirnov (b. 1948): Two Fugues for solo violin, Op. 6 (1970)
Nikolai Badinski (b. 1937): Dialoghi per violino solo (1973) — World Premiere Recording
Elena Firsova (b. 1950): Fantasia for solo violin, Op. 32 (1985) — World Premiere Recording
Konstantin Soukhovetski (b. 1981): Postcard from the Edge (1990) — World Premiere Recording

Recorded on June 16 and 17, 2013 at Edith Chapel, Lawrenceville, New Jersey
Recording Engineers: John C. Baker and Samuel Ward
Edited by John C. Baker
Mastered by Gene Gaudette
Produced by Elmira Darvarova and Gene Gaudette

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Urlicht AudioVisual UAV-5984 (783583260442)

Digital release date: Nov. 27, 2017

CD available in January 2018

ARG praises the New York Piano Quartet’s CD release of music by Marx and Korngold

Another rave review for the New York Piano Quartet:

“Joseph Marx’s Quartet in the Form of a Rhapsody, to give its full name, dates from 1911, the year he also wrote his superb Rhapsody, Scherzo, and Ballade for the same forces. … Marx’s control over his resources is everywhere apparent. The piece struck me as first-rate in every respect. … We need to stop thinking of Korngold as merely a skilled vendor of Hollywood bon-bons. His chamber music not only shows a deeper aspect of his personality, but in retrospect lifts the average of his entire output. Performances of both works are terrific, completely vindicating their value.
– Don O’Connor, American Record Guide, June 2013

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Gramophone hails the New York Piano Quartet’s CD release of music by Marx and Korngold

High praise from the world’s most influential classical music magazine:

The players – all members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra – restore life to works by the Austrian composers Joseph Marx and Erich Wolfgang Korngold long left on the shelf of history. … Both pieces receive ultra-impassioned, vividly detailed performances by the musicians of the New York Piano Quartet. Given the fact that Marx and Korngold aren’t shy about wearing hearts on sleeves, the players dig into the music with alacrity, the strings often employing juicy vibrato and slides to emphasise the composers’ expressive oints. The artistry has the excitement that often transpires when something significant as been unearthed and savoured.”
– Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone, June 2013

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The New York Piano Quartet Plays Marx & Korngold

“How could such a major composer fall into oblivion?”

Those are the words of conductor Riccardo Chailly concerning Austrian composer Joseph Marx, whose music remained firmly in the romantic tradition throughout his long career, which spanned the first six decades of the twentieth century. For the latter half of the twentieth century, Marx’s reputation rested on over 150 songs composed in the late romantic style, most of which he wrote while he was in his twenties; the rest of his music had been all but forgotten. Only recently has his technically demanding chamber music, including the?Rhapsodie for piano quartet — which received its American premiere last year from the New York Piano Quartet — enjoyed a revival.

Marx’s more famous contemporary, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, is most well known as the composer who revolutionized music for the cinema. Korngold enjoyed a fruitful partnership with Paul Wittgenstein, the eminent pianist who lost his right arm in the First World War and commissioned the leading composers of his day to write works for piano left hand. Korngold’s Suite for piano left hand, two violins and cello has all the composer’s hallmarks — evocative and expressive melodies, brilliant harmonies, and dramatic virtuoso gestures — along with a few portents of the great film scores he would begin composing less than a decade later.

Here are two great works of 20th century high romanticism guaranteed to please fans of romantic repertoire and bravura chamber music. In their newest recording, the New York Piano Quartet rise to the challenge of Marx’s Rhapsodie, a veritable symphonic poem for four players, and Korngold’s entertaining Suite.

Joseph Marx: Rhapsodie
Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Suite for piano left hand, two violins and cello*

New York Piano Quartet
Elmira Darvarova, violin / Ronald Carbone, viola and *violin / Samuel Magill, cello / Linda Hall, piano

Produced by Gene Gaudette
Engineered by John C. Baker
Recorded March 2012, Lawrenceville School Chapel, Lawrenceville, NJ

Urlicht AudioVisual UAV-5996

CD release date: January 29, 2013