ZEISL & COPLAND: VIOLIN SONATASBLOCH: Abodah, DAUBER: Sonata; ZEISL: Menuchim's Song
Ernest Bloch, Aaron Copland, Robert Dauber, Eric Zeisl
ZINA SCHIFF, violin
World Premiere Recordings
“I have loved every recording I have heard by Schiff and Grant, but this one is particularly special because it introduced me to the music of Zeisl and solves the riddle of how to play the Copland.”
Fine, American Record Guide [March/April 2015]
“All of this music has in various degrees Jewish "folk elements." That and the rhapsodic dedication of the performers gives this disk a unified feel... [Eric Zeisl] is less remembered for his concert work, but all that may indeed change with the advent of his music sounding so well here... The music is uniformly worthwhile, with Zeisl and Daucher holding their own against their better-known contemporaries. All of the music here is neither rabidly modernist nor exactly neo-classical or neo-romantic. It is music that revels in the "Jewish tinge," soaring minor mode melodies, jaunty dance-inflected music and modern compositional elements, all played with genuine idiomatic musicality by Schiff and Grant.It is refreshing, delightful music that rings true and gives great pleasure. I do recommend this one heartily.”
Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Classical Review [February 2015]
“[Schiff] clearly shares [Heifetz'] stunning technique and passionate style, but on the strength of this programme she is willing to enter into the intimate side of the music she performs in a way has often seemed reluctant to do... [Bloch is played with] superb, full, singing tone with impeccable intonation... These works are all splendidly dispatched by Schiff, [Cameron Grant is] a discreet and attentive accompanist who brilliant takes center stage when the music commands it. They are well-recorded with an ideal balance between the instruments, the duo ideally placed not too close to the listener”.
William Hedley, International Record Review [February 2015]
“The program opens with Zeisl’s brief melody, Menuchim’s Song, which Schiff declaims with impassioned intensity and searing tone... the outer sections of Copland’s first movement sound more suggestive—and perhaps more improvisatory—in [Schiff's] version with Grant than it does in Isaac Stern’s recording with the composer at the piano... Throughout the [Bloch] —and throughout the program in general—Schiff produces a lush tone that’s commanding in declamation and insinuating in meditation, and Cameron serves as a sympathetic collaborator. Their championship should, in fact, bring Zeisl’s Sonata—and its composer, as well—to those who know him principally from his Hollywood film scores... The duo brings the program to a close with Dauber’s Serenata. This confection emerges here with the sweetness of Carl Goldmark’s music for violin, though without the harmonic complexity or the slight bitterness that many might associate with Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s. In any case, the duo’s reading makes it clear that his loss should still be keenly felt. For their new vision of Copland’s Sonata, their generally compelling performances of works both familiar and unfamiliar, and the excellent recorded sound, the duo’s program deserves a strong recommendation.”
Robert Maxham, Fanfare [January/February 2015]
“[MUSICWEB CD OF THE MONTH] [This] is a disc that whilst it is melancholic at times, also celebrates Jewish dance rhythms, with the result being one of real enjoyment... [Zeisl's Brandeis Sonata] is a powerful and thought-provoking work, in which the Jewish character comes to the fore brilliantly. Both Zeisl works receive their premiere recordings here, and it’s about time. [Copland's Sonata] has received some fine recordings in the past, not least those by Isaac Stern and Gil Shaham [but] this new recording more than stands its ground with its illustrious counterparts... This is a well conceived and executed disc. The performances by Schiff and Cameron Grant are first rate and they are captured in quite a natural and well balanced acoustic... this is a disc well worth exploring, not least for the Zeisl Sonata, which truly deserves to be better known, and for which we should be thankful to MSR Classics as well as Schiff and Grant for bringing it to our attention.”
Stuart Sillitoe, MusicWeb International [December 2014]
“[Menuchim’s Song is] finely played by Zina Schiff and Cameron Grant. A really lovely piece... these two players slowly take the theme [of Copland's first movement] forward through variants, speeding and developing with some phenomenally fine playing revealing some lovely little Coplandesque motifs... Schiff and Grant finding a natural flow and revealing all of Copland’s exquisite creation. These players bring a fine sense of rhythm and phrasing to Copland’s tricky Allegretto giusto, Schiff providing some lovely timbres and exquisite shaped phrasing. Both players find much joy in this music with some terrific ensemble before the tension is released for the quiet coda where Schiff brings some lovely violin textures. [In the Bloch we hear] Schiff providing a lovely violin tone in this fine melody full of Jewish inflections to which these artists bring much fine sensibility. [In Zeisl's Sonata] Schiff brings some lovely passionate phrases, a lovely rise and fall, brilliantly accompanied by Grant. These two really have the measure of this music... There is some breathtaking playing in this fine performance. [The Dauber receives] exquisite playing from both these artists with silken piano chords and a lovely violin tone. All the performances on this disc are excellent. Zina Schiff and Cameron Grant are nicely recorded with a lovely sense of space...”
Bruce Reader, The Classical Reviewer [November 2014]
“[Zeisl] sought to incorporate Jewish elements into essentially secular music, as in his moving and emotive writing in Menuchim’s Song... Schiff and Grant play all the works feelingly and with particular attentiveness to their emotional elements.”
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [November 2014]
PROGRAM NOTESThe Zeisl and Copland Sonatas are the works of two Jewish “concert composers,” working in Hollywood, deeply affected by World War II. Despite their distinct voices, the sonatas share an elegaic core, haunting melodies, fresh harmonies, dizzying dance rhythms, and similarity of structure.
Zina Schiff, a Heifetz protégée, has been described by The New York Times as an instrumentalist of “Luscious high voltage...vintage Heifetz.” She has performed and recorded on four continents, and her many awards include the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Award, the San Francisco Symphony Foundation Award, and a grant from the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music. A student of Ivan Galamian at The Curtis Institute, she won both the Junior and Senior Auditions of The Philadelphia Orchestra. Named one of the “Top Ten College Winners” by Glamour Magazine, Zina was selected as an “Outstanding Young Artist” by Musical America and honored as a “Distinguished Alumna” by Louisiana State University. Zina has performed at such festivals as the Budapest Spring Festival, Aspen, Music from Bear Valley, Mendocino, Sewanee, and Newport, where her artistry was described as “pure perfume”. She has been heard on NPR’s “Performance Today,” WGBH’s “Live from Fraser,” New York’s WQXR, and “Art of the States.” Worldwide appearances on television include the PBS Nova program “What is Music?” where she performed the Sibelius Violin Concerto on an experimental violin by Texas A & M professor Joseph Nagyvary. Zina’s first recording was the score for the MGM movie, The Fixer, composed for solo violin by Maurice Jarre. Her debut CDs with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra were Bach & Vivaldi and The Lark Ascending. Solo discs with Cameron Grant on the 4-Tay label include Here’s One and King David’s Lyre (both of which were American Record Guide Critics’ Choices for 1997), The Golden Dove, and Elijah’s Violin. Of her two Naxos recordings, Cecil Burleigh: Music for Violin and Piano was an American Record Guide Critics‘ Choice in 2002 and Bloch: Violin Concerto, Baal Shem & Suite Hébraïque with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra was Recording of the Month in 2007 for MusicWeb International and awarded a 10/10 rating by ClassicsToday.com.
Cameron Grant joined the New York City Ballet in 1984, became a Solo Pianist there two years later, and was appointed pianist of the NYCB Orchestra in 1998. He has performed all the major “piano ballets” of the company such as the Goldberg Variations and Dances at a Gathering of Jerome Robbins, Davidsbundlertanze of George Balanchine, and Waltz Project of Peter Martins as well as virtually all the piano concerti of the repertory including those of Tchaikovsky, Ravel, Hindemith, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Cameron has been the soloist in premieres of ballets by Richard Tanner, Robert La Fosse and Christopher Wheeldon, and toured as a featured performer with the company on trips to Paris, Edinburgh, Athens, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Italy, Russia and Denmark. In 2004, he appeared in the Emmy Award-winning “Live from Lincoln Center” broadcast of the New York City Ballet, as well as being invited (along with three other members of NYCB), to perform at the Kennedy Center Honors before the President. The Washington Post described “It’s as if the music...a test of endurance that pianist Cameron Grant sailed through...is playing with him.” Cameron has performed extensively outside the ballet as well. He was pianist of the Leonardo Trio for 15 years, recording a CD and appearing across the United States and in Europe. As a member of the Grant-Winn duo-piano team, he was a prize winner at the Munich Competition and performed 200 concerts in the US, Canada, and Germany. As a soloist, he toured Japan and the Middle East, and made his New York debut at Town Hall. He has recorded for Orion (with Joel Krosnick), CRI, CBS, XLNT, Koch International and 4-Tay. His partnering on discs with Zina Schiff has garnered international praise for his “excellence” and “sympathetic and subtle” collaborations. The American Record Guide exclaimed, “Zina Schiff and Cameron Grant play wonderfully together!” This is Cameron’ s sixth CD with Ms. Schiff.
PROGRAMERIC ZEISL (1905-1959)
MENUCHIM’S SONG (1939)
AARON COPLAND (1900-1990)
VIOLIN SONATA (1942-43)
ERNEST BLOCH (1880-1959)
VIOLIN SONATA “BRANDEIS” (1949-50)
Grave / Allegretto
ROBERT DAUBER (1922-1945)