Title - 'Faure & Strauss Violin Sonatas'
Artist - Itzhak Perlman & Emanuel Ax
For those not in the classical know, Itzhak Perlman is an Israeli-American violinist, conductor, and pedagogue. Perlman was born in Tel Aviv in 1945, then British Mandate of Palestine, now Israel. His parents, Chaim and Shoshana Perlman, were natives of Poland and had independently immigrated to Palestine in the mid-1930s before they met and later married.
Perlman first became interested in the violin after hearing a classical music performance on the radio. At the age of three, he was denied admission to the Shulamit Conservatory for being too small to hold a violin. He instead taught himself how to play the instrument using a toy fiddle until he was old enough to study with Rivka Goldgart at the Shulamit Conservatory and at the Academy of Music in Tel Aviv, where he gave his first recital at age 10, before moving to the United States to study at the Juilliard School with the violin pedagogue Ivan Galamian and his assistant Dorothy DeLay.
Perlman contracted polio at age four. He made a good recovery, learning to walk with crutches. Today, he uses crutches or an electric Amigo scooter for mobility and plays the violin while seated.
His duo partner here, Emanuel Ax is a Grammy-winning American classical pianist. He is an internationally acclaimed performer, and a teacher on the faculty of the Juilliard School. Ax was born to a Polish-Jewish family in Lviv, Ukraine, (then in the USSR) to Joachim and Hellen Ax, both Nazi concentration camp survivors.
Ax began to study piano at the age of six; his father was his first piano teacher. When he was seven the family moved to Warsaw, Poland (where he studied piano playing at Miodowa school) and then two years later to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada where he continued to study music, including as a member of The Junior Musical Club of Winnipeg.
In 1961 the family moved to New York City and Ax continued his studies at the Juilliard School under Mieczys³aw Munz. In 1970 he received his B.A. in French at Columbia University and became an American citizen. In 1973 he won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions.
The 16-time Grammy winning Perlman celebrated his 70th birthday this past August; the milestone being marked with multiple releases paying tribute to his catalog as well as Perlman's first new solo recording in 16 years. Ergo, Fauré & Strauss Violin Sonatas with pianist Emanuel Ax was that new album, and boy, what a GREAT one!
Released on Deutsche Grammophon/UMC, and hot on the heels of the 25-CD box set Itzhak Perlman: Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon, released this past May 26th on DG/UMC, Fauré & Strauss Violin Sonatas is actually, no word of a lie, best summed up by Perlman himself: "It smells like ambrosia the essence of French music, a lovely piece. For a violinist, its phrases are a real satisfaction to play, as they're so rich."
As for the Strauss sonata, Perlman says, "It's by the young Strauss emotionally heroic, very appassionato. I like to write stories in my mind about the music I play, to help me with the phrasing. This is a dramatic story although in the slow movement, I imagine it in a coffeehouse, intimate and warm."
1. I. Allegro molto
2. II. Andante
3. III. Allegro vivo
4. IV. Allegro quasi presto
5. I. Allegro ma non troppo
6. II. Improvisation: Andante cantabile
7. III. Finale: Andante - Allegro
Also, and in addition to this being Perlman's first new solo recording in over a decade, it is also the first recording by this violin-piano team after years of performing together on stage, and the first time Perlman has recorded these two major sonatas.
In closing, and admittedly, the violin sonatas of both single Richard Strauss Violin Sonata and Violin Sonata No. 1 in A Major by Gabriel Fauré may not be well known to many outside the chamber music audiences, but now we have the opportunity to hear how fine both works are. Perlman and Ax are perfectly paired here – each has similar approaches to phrasing and nuance and the blend of their sound is simply some of the finest on recordings of chamber music.