The third release for Warner Classics from the award-winning, critically acclaimed Swiss violinist Rachel Kolly d'Alba.
Rachel Kolly D'Alba says: "American Music... seems to discourage any choice between lowbrow and highbrow, so powerfully does it express one key concept - fellowship. All kinds of different music coexisted in the States throughout the twentieth century, and the boundaries between different styles simply vanish when it comes to works such as Gershwin's Porgy and Bess or Bernstein's Serenade. Their origins are secondary: what matters is the message they convey."
Nominated for the ICMA Concerto Award in 2013
Classical CD Choice
"AMERICAN SERENADE: BIZET, BERNSTEIN, WAXMAN Rachel Kolly d’Alba, violin, Orchestre Nationale des Pays de la Loire, John Axelrerod, Warner Classics Three winning and attractive pieces (two of them transcriptions) which make a lively and undemanding programme. Some may be given pause by the surprising number of photographs of the violinist herself, but that’s no doubt an imperative of the art of selling classical music today."
BBC Radio 3 - CD Review
“beautifully played” and “the playing is wonderful”
BBC Music Magazine - March 2013 *****
“... only comparatively rarely does a player emerge who is so musically engaging that one barely notices the technical means involved. Rachel Kolly d'Alba is one of the gifted few who never lapses into interpretative rhetoric or cliché, but lives through the music as though it has taken her over. ... She rides the surging tide of Gershwin's imagination with unforced freshness and spontaneity. ... the stand-out performance here is arguably the Waxman Carmen Fantasie, in which Kolly d'Alba turns every arabesque, flying harmonic and octave flourish into compelling musical matter. ...”
ECHO Découverte - Février 2013
"...Avec un brio exceptionnel, la violiniste virtuose fribourgeoise se joue des difficultés techniques de ces pièces comme si elle avait baigné dans cette musique depuis son enfance. ... elle excelle à mettre en évidence les couleurs et les vibratos, les rythmes endiablés et les confidences, la mélancolie et l'euphorie dont la passion d'amour est toujours porteuse."
FANFARE May 2013
Alexander Courage’s lavish arrangement of numbers from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess features a violin part that sounds both brilliant and idiomatic. Jascha Heifetz transcribed some of these pieces for violin and piano; his versions likely haunt violinists listening to Gershwin’s melodies whenever they’re belted out by a violin. But Courage’s Fantasy and violinist Rachel Kolly d’Alba’s performance should set echoes of their own flying. Heifetz doesn’t even seem to inhabit the shadows cast by “It Ain’t Necessarily So” in this reading (or “Summertime,” to which Courage, d’Alba, and conductor John Axelrod bring a stylish sultriness that suits it almost as well as did Heifetz’s nearly overheated intensity. The violinist’s languid reading of “Bess, You Is My Woman Now” also manages to break free from Heifetz’s mold, partly due to the richly suggestive orchestration. The Fantasy concludes with an Andantino con molto calore and a Cadenza and Finale (brief cadenzas also provide transitions between several of the movements, for example, at the end of “There’s a Boat Leavin’”).
Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade, scored for solo violin, strings, harp, and percussion, which, d’Alba suggests in her booklet notes, the composer considered his best work, occupies the middle of the program. D’Alba’s shimmering, pure tone soars in the first movement, “Phaedrus,” far above Axelrod’s sonorous accompaniment, recorded with a minute attention to detail by Warner’s engineers; and both violinist and orchestra play the Allegro with jaunty playfulness. They’re appropriately tentative, and later, elfin, in Aristophanes , but however strong her adherence to the program, d’Alba’s playing consistently affords a sort of sensuous pleasure in and of itself, both tonally and technically. That’s true even in the scherzo-like Eryximachus. Agathon , which features the kind of rapt meditative passages to which violinists have become accustomed in works by 20th-century composers like Shostakovich, and d’Alba’s pure and slender tone proves wholly adequate to the intensity of its climactic passages. Axelrod transmits the high oratory in the opening of Socrates : in Alcibaides , and he and d’Alba allow the music to subside in hushed reflection before the boisterous conclusion. In design and execution (as well as in its recorded sound), this performance goes beyond the early recordings of Isaac Stern and Zino Francescatti, and even Gidon Kremer (all with the composer conducting). For example, the jazzy interjections by percussion and pizzicato bass sound almost startling—though idiomatic—here. Franz Waxman’s Carmen Fantasy , played by Isaac Stern in the movie, Humoresque , later became a repertoire staple, slowly even supplanting Pablo Sarasate’s Fantasy on some of the same operatic tunes (Jenő Hubay’s reworking of the melodies has never reached the same level of popularity). Rachel Kolly d’Alba plays it with an almost over-the-top joie de vivre and smoldering expressivity that render it highly entertaining as well as highly impressive.
In Fanfare 34:1, I recommended d’Alba’s version of Eugène Ysaÿe’s solo sonatas (Warner 2564 6838-5) “almost exclusively to those willing to exchange some slash or even technical security for additional poetry, some introverted brooding for straightforward good cheer, and some of the sonatas’ darker hues for pastels.” But these very qualities make her brilliantly successful in this American repertoire. Urgently recommended. Although it may be too early to be compiling a Want List, something as prepossessing as this most certainly ought to be in strong contention.