Auerbach; Shostakovich Ballet for a Lonely Violinist
Vadim Gluzman and Angela Yoffe, an impressive, well matched husband-and-wife team, give a powerful account of the 1968 Shostakovich Sonata. Written to celebrate David Oistrakh’s 60th birthday, the Sonata in no way reflects the eminent violinist’s warm personality, presenting instead a harsh, bleak musical landscape. This performance rises to its demands – extremes of tone and virtuoso intensity – the central Allegretto projecting an atmosphere of glittering ferocity.
The Jazz Suite No 1 of 1934, in a splendid arrangement by Vadim Gluzman’s father, takes us back to a very different Shostakovich: the wit may be sardonic but the mood remains light-hearted and upbeat. As heard here, the opening Waltz becomes a flashy showpiece for violin, and in the concluding Foxtrot Yoffe imparts a manic quality to her syncopations.
I first met the music of Lera Auerbach, born in Russia in 1973 but for the past 15 years a New Yorker, on a previous Gluzman/Yoffe disc featuring her 24 Preludes. The unaccompanied Ballet for a Lonely Violinist, a suite of six miniatures, cleverly creates an oppressive, claustrophobic atmosphere, with repetitive, circular musical devices. By the final two movements, ‘Worrying Thought’ and ‘A Question’, the violinist’s world has shrunk almost to vanishing point – tiny fragments repeated over and over. The Sonata, Auerbach’s response to the events of 9/11, is on a far grander scale, with big, even melodramatic gestures. It’s a well made piece, imaginatively cast for the two instruments and with some beautiful, inspiring moments, but suffering a little from comparison with Shostakovich’s sharp focus and unpredictability.