It is not usual for a disc dedicated to music for solo violin to be as varied as this Divine Art issue is. The principal work on the programme is undoubtedly Bartók's Sonata which is a difficult piece to bring off but Zacharias surely has the measure of it. Dedicated to Yehudi Menuhin, it was the composer's last completed chamber music composition. The work is deemed as one of the most demanding Bartók ever wrote, but it is also one of the most revealing, reflecting the man's serious illness and his dark sadness at the plight of his native Hungary at the time.
The Sonata by Nikos Skalkottas (1904-1949) is by one of Greece's pre-eminent composers and it is also interestingly one of his earliest pieces that has survived to this day. Assertive and impressively virtuosic, the work defines the composer's unique talent as a violinist of rare quality and despite its brevity, the piece is extremely rich in ideas and imagination.
Niccolò Paganini's two sets of variations certainly need no introduction, and deservedly they have always formed part of every fiddler's repertoire. They are absolute romantic gems which never fail to delight and excite. Finally we have the excellent sonata by the underrated Belgian master Eugène Ysaÿe (1858-1931) is the last of a set of six that the composer conceived in the remarkable time of just a week in 1924. It's Iberian flavor and rhythms make it most demanding but it is also breathtakingly beautiful.
The young Greek soloist George Zacharias performs with distinctive insight and empathy, and in his hands this music is constantly alive and absorbing. Wonderful music making all round and highly recommended especially to enthusiasts of the violin.
Copyright © 2009, Gerald Fenech