Both in terms of the originality of the program and the beauty of the interpretations, it is an album that will go down as a milestone, signed by the young French violinist living in Vienna Louise Chisson and the Georgian pianist Tamara Atschba (already noticed in a Gramola CD, dedicated to Poulenc, Janacek and Prokofiev).
The program opens with two pieces by Lili Boulanger (1893-1918), including a Nocturne (1911) rendered here to its pure lines, its clear textures, its elusive sinuosity where the memory of Debussy’s faun passes.
Almost ignored in France, the Polish violinist and composer Grazyna Bacewicz (1909-1969) left an abundant and often first-rate production, including this Sonata for violin and piano No. 4 (1949-1952) escaping from the neoclassical constraints and giving free rein to a lyricism a little tinged with Polish folklore. In four dense and rather concise movements, this magnificent score, a little harsh and haughty but of astonishing vitality, has a rare flavor and an inner line of admirable firmness. Our interpreters give a warm, finely and richly colored reading, which is all action and movement and where rhythm is king.
The wild, fiercely obsessive music of Galina Ustvolskaja (1919-2006), recognizable by its laconisms stated with determination, is from another world. Composed in one long movement, her Sonata for violin and piano (1952) is literally transcended by the tawny or golden inflections of Louise Chisson's violin, with a bass as prominent as that of a viola, and by Tamara Atschba's frank and flexible piano. Never has a work of the intransigent Russian dissident been defended with such a demand, such emotion, such panache!
At the end of these two monuments, the five parts of String Poetic (2006) offer a playful and skillful kaleidoscope. The American composer Jennifer Higdon (born in 1962) mixes stitching, unusual sounds (including some notes of a prepared piano) and brief more traditional thematic developments. All this in a perpetual effervescence, irradiated here by the natural breathing, the precision and the very brightly colored impulses of our two musicians.
BBC Radio Scotland - Album of the week
by Stephen Broad
Belgischer Rundfunk (Belgian Broadcasting)
Listen to (german):
Die Geigerin Louise Chisson und ihre Klavierpartnerin Tamara Atschba haben eine höchst abwechslungsreiche CD aufgenommen mit Werken von vier Komponistinnen des 20. Jahrhunderts.
Chisson und Atschba entfalten die sehr unterschiedlichen Temperamente, die sich in diesen Musiken der vier Komponistinnen zeigen, so eindringlich wie bedachtsam.
- Harald Eggebrecht
The American composer Roy Harris said of Galina Ustvolksaya’s sonata that it was kind of ugly. And the Fourth Sonata by Grazyna Bacewicz can be heard as rising impulsively into a frenzy. Jennifer Higdon’s Five Poetic Pieces, while poetic by title, are also considerably more brittle. Along with jags, machine chugging, and frantic labyrinthine, there are also mysterious mists. Before these works, which are demanding to hear, the two interpreters have placed the two miniatures by Nadia Boulanger, which in retrospect are almost relaxed, rather impressionistically shimmering, but they have also given them a good portion of expressiveness.
It may perhaps be taken as the strongest impression from the overall view that the two interpreters, violinist Louise Chisson and her piano partner Tamara Atschba, present on this varied CD a strong expressive view of four works of a century of gender comrades. In doing so, they deftly highlight interpretive and creative differences, allowing each work to reflect its due character. One really cannot accuse the interpreters of having hidden their creative will and its technically intensively realized realization. Rather, they keep the listeners spellbound with their demanding playing until the very last note.
- Uwe Krusch
Review & Interview (german):
"Their performance of Bacewicz's Violin Sonata No. 4 here is really splendid.
A remarkable journey, with excellent playing from both musicians and first-class sound."
- Lynn René Bayley
"These are exceptionally well-crafted works given exceptionally fine performances."
- Ralph Graves
"The perfectly harmonious ladies duo has succeeded in creating an album that is as outstanding as it is important."
- Burkhard Schäfer
"20th century feminine" spannt weite Bögen von Frankreich nach Russland, von Romantik zu Moderne und von lyrischen Klängen zu aggressivem Aufbegehren. Elisabeth Richter ist begeistert von Brillanz, Spannung und Kontrasten.
"Louise Chisson und Tamara Atschba sind ein exzellent harmonierendes Duo. Ihr Zusammenspiel balancieren sie perfekt. Artikulation, Phrasierung, Farben und Spannungsaufbau sind genau überlegt, strukturelle Zusammenhänge beleuchtet. Durch die Wahl der Stücke dieses Albums und ihre kluge dramaturgisch kurzweilige Abfolge werden auch die kompositorischen Entwicklungen im 20. Jahrhundert nachvollziehbar."