GRAMOPHONE, Peter Dickinson "My first reaction to this CD was the shock of recognition. This was the violin which I remember Ralph Holmes playing, the 'Habeneck', put together by Stradivari in 1734 when he was 90. Its wonderfully rich response makes a major sixth sound like a four-part chord. Peter Sheppard Skærved was a pupil of Holmes and a worth successor, as his playing here and elsewhere demonstrates.
His CD booklet goes into detail about his connections with Rochberg when playing the Caprice Variations, which were written in 1970 shortly before the composer turned away from modernism in works like the Third Quartet. The prospect of 90 minutes of unaccompanied violin is intimidating but, wince Rochberg is working within traditions from Bach to Mahler, the whole apparatus of tonality is in operation for 41 out of 50 variations. There are connections with Beethoven, Brahms and Bach as well as Mahler and early Webern. For example, Variations 21 takes off from the finale of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, of which Rochberg said: "there is more sheer vitality per square measure... than in any number of pieces by major composers of our own time."
Then there is the Paganini theme itself, which has been the basis for variations by composers as different at Lutoslawski and Andrew lloyd Webber. We hear it briefly at the end and are left wondering if that was what the previous 90 minuets were about. In fact the previous five variations were dissonant but the first 17 were blandly diatonic: 18 was a shock with high shrieks which came back in 35.
Finally, the performance is so compelling that interest never wavers; the recording is fine; and it doesn't matter where the music came from since this magnificent instrument enjoys every note."
|George Rochberg Caprice Variations|
|3.||Allegro molto e con fuoco|
|4.||Poco allegro ma quasi recitando|
|5.||Poco agitato ma con molto rubato|
|6.||Poco allegretto ma con rubato|
|7.||Presto (after Beethoven Op 74 Scherzo)|
|8.||Languido (after Schubert Waltz Op 9 No 22)|
|9.||Non troppo presto (after Brahms Op 35 Bk1 No2)|
|10.||Vivace (after Brahms Op 35 Bk1 No3)|
|11.||Andante (after Brahms Op 35 Bk1 No11)|
|12.||Andante con moto (after Brahms Op 35 Bk1 No12)|
|13.||Feroce, energico (after Brahms Op 35 Bk2 No10)|
|14.||Alla guitarra; allegretto con molto rubato|
|15.||Con grazia; un poco agitato|
|20.||Quasi cadenza; andante con molto expressione|
|21.||Allegro con brio (after Beethoven Symphony No 7, Finale)|
|22.||Molto expressivo e cantando|
|23.||Andante grazioso e tranquillo|
|29.||Lento ma non troppo|
|30.||Poco allegretto e leggiero|
|32.||Allegro assai; burlesco|
|33.||Moderato; con amore|
|35.||Allegro molto; fantastico|
|38.||Can-can tempo; presto|
|40.||Robust; do not rush|
|41.||Allegro molto (after Webern Passcaglia Op 1)|
|44.||Scherzo (after Mahler Symphony No 5, Scherzo)|
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