For the Record, Op. 84: Rachel Podger; Ittai Shapira; Janet Sung; Mi-Sa Yang

April 25, 2019, 12:17 PM · Welcome to "For the Record,"'s weekly roundup of new releases of recordings by violinists, violists, cellists and other classical musicians. We hope it helps you keep track of your favorite artists, as well as find some new ones to add to your listening!

Rachel Podger
Rachel Podger. Photo by Theresa Pewal.

Bach: Cello Suites violin transcription
Rachel Podger, violin

Violinist Rachel Podger presents the first recording of Johann Sebastian Bach's Cello Suites on violin. Bach had a habit of recycling his own compositions for different instruments and different uses. The examples are endless; concertos appearing as sinfonias in cantatas, or concertos for violins turned into harpsichord concertos. Podger, who has spent a fair bit of time coaching cellists, both modern and baroque alike, found herself playing along to demonstrate various points. "I started catching myself playing some of the movements I particularly loved while warming up, and realizing that it was actually possible to play them on the violin, and to find a special expressive vocabulary at the higher pitch." BELOW: Rachel Podger performs Bach's Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, II. Allemande

Midnight Journeys
Ittai Shapira, composer, violin
Hagai Shaham, violin
Thomas Carroll, cello
Robert Plane, clarinet
BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Rumon Gamba, conducting
Arpeggione Kammerorchestra, Robert Bokor conducting
Midnight Journeys is an album of double concertos by composer-violinist Ittai Shapira, composed as part of his recovery and in an attempt to regain and connect fragments of his memories after a terrible act of violence inflicted on him a decade ago. Featuring the words and spoken narration of Sir Salman Rushdie, these works are a powerful exploration of cross-cultural collaboration. Indian, British, Gypsy and Jewish music and stories have all influenced these works. Shapira said that he will use selected sequences from these compositions to work with patients, refugees, women recovering from violence and abuse, veterans with PTSD, and as an educational tool for societal healing.

Edge of Youth
Janet Sung, violin
William Wolfram, piano

"Edge of Youth represents a time when one starts to discover a new, more mature version of their own voice or self," said Janet Sun of her new release. "We find confidence in that voice when we allow ourselves to go to the edge of what is known or comfortable. Brought up steeped in the traditions of classical music, and deeply influenced by some of the greatest violinists of the old world, this album represents some of that artistic journey for me. In curating this collection of works by masters Britten, Enescu and three young, dynamic living composers, Missy Mazzoli, Dan Visconti and Gabriel Prokofiev, I gravitated toward works that were striking to me and in some ways unexpected, whether it was a new sound world, a new perspective on an old familiar work, or the surprising way certain works profoundly grew in their impact." BELOW: a clip from Britten’s Suite for Violin and Piano:

Mozart: Sonatas for Violin & Piano
Mi-Sa Yang, violin
Jonas Vitaud, piano

Although Mozart is known primarily as a pianist, he was a violinist at the court of Salzburg until he walked out in 1781 to launch an independent career in Vienna. These sonatas belong to two sets of six, one published in Paris in 1778, when Mozart first sought to leave Salzburg, the other in Vienna in 1781, right after he resigned. These pieces were meant to serve as a calling card, but Mozart went well beyond this sole intention.

If you have a new recording you would like us to consider for inclusion in our Thursday "For the Record" feature, please e-mail Editor Laurie Niles. Be sure to include the name of your album, a link to it and a short description of what it includes.

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April 27, 2019 at 12:40 PM · I wonder how many violinists are aware that all of the Bach cello suites have been transcribed for violin and published in a single volume. They are raised by a fifth, the G-major suite is in D-major and so on. This makes them fall on the strings the same as they do on cello. The title of the collection is something like Bach Six Suites for Violin. I can’t remember the name of the person who transcribed them. They are very pleasant to play and not nearly as challenging for violinists as the Sonatas and Partitas. Didn’t Edgar Meyer or someone transcribe the Sonatas and Partitas for double bass and issue a recording of them? Now that’s certainly a feat of virtuosity.

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