Elogio per un'ombra
‘Europe’s premiere post-modern label’: that might be ECM’s slogan – or so one might think, reading through the contents of this and other instrumental recitals it has brought out in recent years. Actually the eclecticism is belied by a number of links, some audible, others not. One is the obvious Italian connection, spanning the centuries across ‘the first piece of Italian instrumental music’ (the Lamento di Tristan) to Dallapiccola, Petrassi and Berio; another is the kinship of Carter and Rochberg to these figures (especially the first two) at one time or another; and a third is the variation structure and violinistic preoccupations of the Tartini Sonata, which also informs the neo-tonal materials and explicitly idiomatic writing of Rochberg’s Caprice Variations. To some extent, as I have said, these are ‘paper links’, yet there is no doubt that the whole hangs together very convincingly.
Makarski varies her playing styles deftly; that is one of the principal challenges of this sort of recital. In the Tartini she is fluid and unobtrusively virtuosic; the second of Dallapiccola’s studies has the grandiloquent weight that the fugal ‘subject’ seems to demand (though I confess that the overall effect of the piece is not to my taste). The three modernist pieces are well controlled (with Thomas Larcher a secure accompanist in the Dallapiccola and Berio pieces), the harmonics nicely in place (try the first of Berio’s Due pezzi after the four-minute mark), intonation and tone quality appropriately varied; Rochberg’s neo-romanticism elicits the requisite warmth and contrasts well with the vielle-like whiteness and straight tone in the concluding Lamento. In that sense (and quite apart from any ideological considerations) the recital offers a variety which a stylistically uniform programme might struggle to achieve. Indeed, the unlikely juxtapositions tell us something about the continuity of string-playing down the ages, and puts the modern pieces (dare I say it) in a rather conservative light! Very clear sound-recording and strong presence.'