STRAVINSKY

Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)

Music for Violin and Piano

Suite italienne for Violin and Piano
1. Introduzione (Allegro moderato)
2. Serenata (Larghetto)
3. Tarantella (Vivace)
4. Gavotte con due variazioni
5. Scherzino (Presto alla breve)
6. Minuetto e finale (Moderto – Molto vivace)

Divertimento for Violin and Piano The Fairy’s Kiss
7. Sinfonia (Andante)
8. Danses suisses (Tempo giusto)
9. Scherzo (Allegretto grazioso)
10. Pas de deux (Adagio)
11. Variation (Allegretto grazioso)
12. Coda (Presto)

Duo Concertant for Violin and Piano
13. Cantilene
14. Eglogue I
15. Eglogue II
16. Gigue
17. Dithyrambe

Three Pieces for Violin & Piano from Firebird KC 10
18. Prélude et ronde des princeses
19. Berceuse
20. Scherzo

21. Danse Russe for Violin and Piano from Petrushka

 

Musicalifeiten, Jan de Kruijff

“In 1930, Stravinsky's publisher, Willy Streck, introduced the composer to the violinist Samuel Dushkin (1891 - 1976), which resulted in several valuable compositions. Besides the Violin Concerto, the five works included here (and some more).
The way played here, Pulcinella's six parts from southern Italy sound very funny and baroque, the Divertimento moves between moonlight and robust Russian dance with dark romantic features, the Duo becomes a stained-glass concert with five color parts, it is - not because of the good performance! - Get used to linking the three parts of The Firebird to the original orchestra and Petrushka's 'Danse Russe' is full of speed from both artists.
The duo makes much more than a viable whole of this recital and is therefore quite successful, especially as they don't show Stravinsky as a cool frog and play with radiant intensity fire in these works and choose a generally light touch, like Lydia Mordkovitch, for example. and Julian Milford (Chandos CHAN 9756). The complete works for violin and piano were beautifully recorded on two CDs in 1987 by Isabelle van Keulen and Olli Mustonen (Newton 880206-2)”.

 

The Rehearsal Studio, Stephen Smoliar

“Portuguese violinist Bruno Monteiro continues to expand his repertoire in unanticipated directions. Those following my writings for some time know that he has previously explored the catalogs of Karol Szymanowski, Erwin Schulhoff, and, most recently, Guillaume Lekeu. His latest album turns to more familiar selections, most of which are not in their usual settings. The album consists entirely of music for violin and piano by Igor Stravinsky; and, as in previous recordings, Monteiro is accompanied by pianist João Paulo Santos. As of this writing, it is currently available only directly through its label Etcetera Records. A Web page for purchase has been created; but, since Etcetera is based in Belgium, the price is in euros. Under current conditions, it may be difficult to estimate how long delivery time will be.
In the accompanying booklet Monteiro observes that much of the content of the CD resulted from an eight-year collaboration between Stravinsky and the violist Samuel Dushkin.
Those familiar with the ballet repertoire will probably recall the episodes behind the excerpts from both “The Firebird” and “Petrushka.” One may miss the rich orchestration, but Stravinsky certainly knew how to distill the essence of his own music. Monteiro consistently captures that essence in ways that will appeal to both concertgoers and ballet lovers.
In “Pulcinella,” however, we see one of the earliest moves away from Russian tradition into what came to be called “neoclassicism.” Under Diaghilev’s influence, Stravinsky thought he was creating a score based on the music of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. Pergolesi was a very popular composer in his day, but he died of tuberculosis at the age of 26. In an effort not to lose his “cash cow,” his publisher hired other musicians to create further additions to the Pergolesi catalog; and these deceptions were not unravelled until musicological research in the twentieth century. Regardless of actual sources, however, Stravinsky endowed eighteenth-century Italian traditions with a bevy of twentieth-century twists; and those twists can be easily relished in Monteiro’s account of them.
The score for “Le baiser de la fée,” throws retrospection into an entirely different light. In this case Stravinsky drew his source material from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and I have to confess that this particular ballet score never really registered with me until I had become familiar with most of those sources. Now this is one of my favorite Stravinsky compositions, and I enjoy recognizing the Tchaikovsky “roots” in Stravinsky’s chamber music version as much as I enjoy them when watching the ballet. I suspect it would be fair to say that this was the portion of the album that evoked some of my fondest memories”.

 

Opus Klassiek, Aart van der Wal

“Certainly for the Stravinsky adepts, this CD contains familiar material, but for those who are familiar with the great ballets, this album can still be a revelation. As a closer relative with the well-known music, but with a different appearance, for violin and piano, like the Suite Italienne, the five movements that the composer arranged in 1925 from the suite Pulcinella, with 11 parts, based on the music of Pergolesi. The Divertimento from 1932 based on the ballet Le baiser de la Fée from 1928. The Three Pieces from the ballet L'Oiseau de Feu are three-part adaptations, while Danse Russe can, of course, be found in Petrushka. Only the 1931/32 five-movement Duo Concertant remains alone as a model and resembles a sonata for violin and piano.
Like the ballets in their original orchestral form, they are, without exception, very atmospheric pieces that have been assembled here in performances of extremely high musical quality. Bruno Monteiro and João Paulo Santos breathe this special combination of spontaneity, rhythmic precision and poetic expressiveness, but above all this music is about music (objective), exactly as Stravinsky intended. Stylistically and abstractingly, these are the main elements that also stand out in these interpretations. It is also a form of objectification that the composer himself liked to use as a guide for his work. For example, he once observed that the mass of the artist demands that he reveals his inner self and that, according to the same mass, it is only then that the 'noble art' exists. According to Stravinsky, this is denoted by character and temperament, but it has the death of a brother: for no price did he want to be a part of it, much less that his creations could be accomplices in it. Also in this respect, therefore, no knees bent for the public. Making music without problems is exactly what Monteiro-Santos duo clearly seek in these pieces: less is more, what these five works - as could be otherwise - fit then like a glove. The particularly beautiful recording seals this very successful recital. Monteiro provided a clear and concise explanation in the booklet”.

 

Cultuurpakt, Veerle Deknopper

THE PURE STRAVINSKY – A FIREBIRD´S TESTEMENT

“Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) was born near the Russian cultural metropolis of St. Petersburg and came from a musical background. He was a child at home with his grandparents like Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov when he studied piano with his son at the age of nine. The fact that he started making music at such young age, combined with the advanced age he was allowed to live, strongly influenced his style. He experienced many currents, both musical and political, that were expressed in his music. His life was so rich in impressions that his music also fed on that. But still, it can be a fairytale ballet, a folk dance or an avant-garde piece. Stravinsky's seal is always present, Et'cetera.

The Suite Italienne was written in 1920, when Stravinsky was 28 years old. The young composer had already written a whole series of poetic-inspired songs and ballets when he wrote this suite. He felt the need for another inspiration. He found it at the beginning of the piece. This is also very well heard during the program. A clear influence from Pergolesi. Especially during the second of the six movements - Serenade - one can experience the recognizable passive facet of this influence. Movements three and four (Tarantella and Gavotta con due Varizioni) are more inspired by dance. However, a Stravinsky very different from what one is used to experience when seeing / hearing one of his ballets.

The fact that Monteiro and Santos opted for an audibly austere scenario takes Stravinsky's music back to its origin, to its essence. You hear pure instrumental beauty, along with all the fantasy behind the story. This idea was founded on the collaboration and friendship between Stravinsky and the violinist Samuel Dushkin (1891-1976), a student of Fritz Kreisler and others. The compositions on this album emphasize their joint research for sound. It seems a little bubble of time, a representation of how serene pianist and violinist approach the score and the creation of sounds together, without the theatrical aspect that will occur on the stage afterwards. New World and he dies in the United States at a blessed age.

When viewing the curriculum vitae of the two performing musicians on this album, it is possible to establish the same artistic path, a journey through ancient classical music, to experiment and identify.

Imagine going through an open window this Sunday morning and you will see two musicians working and showing you pure and unadulterated what is happening in their imagination and that makes you dream. You'll find that in this album.

An interesting extra is the cover of a work by the artist Wassily Kandinsky (Moscow 1866-Neuilly-sur-Seine 1944) Developpement and Brun from 1933 that reflects the character of the album. Warm colors that give little hints of old world art, displayed in elegant modern patterns, surrounded by light”.

 

Expresso, João Santos

****

“In 1971, when the man had gone to bury, an anthology called “Stravinsky Joue Stravinsky” was placed on the market, partly devoted to the works for violin and piano that the composer had recorded with Samuel Dushkin. Nothing special distinguished it, other than the sudden confirmation of how very little idiomatic it was, as he was allergic to the instrument's implicit expressiveness, Stravinsky had resisted hostile to compose for violin. However, from 1932, motivated by his German publisher, and always with Dushkin at his side, he imagined himself to dispute the place reserved for the great virtuosos, through recitals whose program the present CD evokes and which one would say had as exponents "Duo Concertant", "Divertimento (The Fairy´s Kiss)" and "Suite italienne (Pulcinella)". As expected, for the time, the style was that of those needless autopsies to the baroque so to the taste of the halls of the chic Winnaretta Singer, where it was never discussed the fact that a quarter of the population was unemployed. Still, in retrospect, there is an undeniable and crucial tension in these short pieces that makes them worthy of note: even the most scrupulous obedience to the canon can prove to be a disrupting factor of the present, they seem to say. In fact, it is enough to juxtapose this kind of indomitable discomfort to which the violinist devouringly indulges and the delicacy and distinction in everything that the pianist choreographically touches to take a portrait of the Great Depression. The edges of their time hitting the smooth surface of history, only once, as I recall, had a violinist swap the bow for the plane (Itzhak Perlman, in 1976) - since then, it is preferable to honor hesitations and irritations in score, that is, except for “Pas de deux” or “Dithyrambe”, which here produces Monteiro's a somewhat barbed tone. In Virgílio's “Bucólicas”, which the “Duo Concertante” alludes to, this reads: “I know poems, and a poet / call me pastors; I don’t believe it / So far nothing I do / It is worthy of Varius or Cinna / Among songbirds swans I am duck. ” As much as they try to convince us otherwise, it is a beautiful description of the violin in Stravinsky's work”.

 

MusicWeb International, Michael Wilkinson

A fascinating and highly enjoyable programme

“It sometimes seems as if Stravinsky’s standing in the pantheon of twentieth century composers has slipped since his death, almost half a century ago. Concert performances of the three great ballets are still common, as well as some of the operas, but his chamber music seems to have a less secure place in the repertoire. This CD is valuable not least in redressing some of that imbalance, but also in sterling performances of some charming music.

Stravinsky wrote quite a body of music for violin and piano, not least because of his close working relationship with the violinist Samuel Dushkin. Their collaboration, especially intimate for an eight-year period, in the 1920s and 1930s, covered the period in Stravinsky’s career described – much to his annoyance – as neo-classical, when he drew so consciously on older forms and
composers, including, notably Pergolesi in Pulcinella. For many listeners, music from this period has an accessibility not always found in the serialism of the 1950s, though the ‘shock of the new’ of the three great Diaghilev ballets often obscured the continuities with past composers.

The charming Suite italienne, in six movements, draws principally on themes from Pulcinella, with the exception of the brief Scherzino. The reduced forces draw our attention to the melodic line as well as to the classical elements. The suite is notable both for its variety and for a distinct rhythmical drive which nevertheless captures some of the character of Pergolesi’s epoch.

Divertimento for Violin and Piano The Fairy’s Kiss, from 1932, is a more substantial work. Today, the original title of the 1928 ballet, is more commonly replaced by the original Le Baiser de la fée. The suite heard here, like the ballet, is an extended homage to Tchaikovsky, but also draws on additional works, including the Humoresque from 3 Morceux (Op.9) and the Nocturne from 6 Pieces (Op.19). Interestingly, the 1934 Suite for Orchestra, essentially is an orchestration of the Divertimento, rather than confining itself to the themes of the original ballet.

Duo Concertant is not directly based on a previous ballet, but the five movements demonstrate Stravinsky’s fascination with earlier dance forms. The influence of Bach is strong. Though everything is restrained, even austere, there is a strong sense of the lyrical. The final movement, Dithyrambe, is remarkable, and I have returned to it several times. Overall, I thought this the most significant work on the disc, in its profundity.

The two final works are essentially virtuoso pieces, which would have delighted original audiences. The programme on this release is the programme toured by Stravinsky and Dushkin, over several years – and it works very well as a programme. The Portuguese Bruno Monteiro and João Paulo Santos, neither exclusively chamber musicians, have nevertheless worked together for many years, and their rapport is evident in their confident anticipation and blending of sound. Monteiro’s playing is as pin-point precise as Stravinsky would wish, and his tone has a wiriness and astringency entirely appropriate to this repertoire. There are alternative recordings of the works, notably from Lydia Mordkovich on Chandos (CHAN9756). Especially interesting is a recording of the Duo Concertant, by Stravinsky and Dushkin, in remarkably good sound, from T.E Lawrence’s Record Collection at Cloud’s Hill, available as a download from Trunk Music. Dushkin’s tone is – even in a recording nearly ninety years old – notably more mellow than Monteirom and makes a fascinating contrast.

Production values are high, with good notes by Bruno Monteiro, and a very clear recording”.

 

Fanfare Magazine, Colin Clarke

Five stars: Stravinsky’s music shines eternal in these often revelatory performances by Monteiro and Santos

"Stravinsky’s works for violin and piano occupy a world of their own. The composer’s voice is so individual the only parallels to be made are The Soldier’s Tale and, of course, his magnificent and still under-rated Violin Concerto. How wonderful, therefore, to have his complete output for violin and piano on one disc in performances of great assurance.
Perhaps the defining factor of Bruno Monteiro’s Stravinsky is its grittiness; when it comes to the more lyrical moments of the Suite italienne, this works particularly well as there is a sort of emotional distancing Stravinsky would surely have approved of. Almost all of the material for this piece comes from Pulcinella (which itself took music by Pergolesi, presented in a Stravinsky wrapper). The challenges to the violinist in particular in this arrangement are multiple, but the stoppings are particularly tricky. Throughout all of this, Monteiro and Santos remain true to a vital aspect of this piece and, indeed, of Stravinsky in general: rhythm. Monteiro and Santos find real grace in the Gavotte, and a true sense of delight in the variations. The version played of this piece has six movements, performed in a different order from the original, and inserts a spiky Scherzino (not the one from the original suite). Monteiro’s dry staccato is delightful. The Menuetto builds nicely to the finale, which here is gently lilting, almost playful. I admit to a soft spot for Kavakos and Péter Nagy on ECM, where this and the Duo concernant meet Bach (the First Solo Violin Partita and Sonata) but Monteiro and Santos have an integrity all of their own; and, of course, their version is held within an all-Stravinsky program.
The Divertimento, an arrangement by Dushkin in collaboration with the composer of music from Le baiser de la Fée, receives a highly committed performance, fully honouring the contrasts that are a vital part of Stravinsky’s music because of his penchant for block juxtaposition. We might be up against the likes of Mullova, Repin and Judith Ingolfsson (the latter of whose Fauré Sonatas with Vladimir Stoupel I enjoyed so much on the Audite label, Fanfare 40:5). What characterises the best performances is that sense of rock-solid rhythms, of nary a sense of rushing; and Monteiro and Santos are as one on this. They find wit and balletic lightness in Stravinsky’s often spare textures. But they find depth, too, in this very special piece. Monteiro’s way with the repeated gesture is exceptional, often glacial in that Stravinsky-objective way. Alternatives come in the form of Arthur Grumiaux, full-throated in his lower registers, with István Hajdu on Orfeo (a pity the piano is rather distanced for this is fine violin playing) or, in more modern garb, the splendidly fresh Isabelle van Keulen and Olli Mustonen on Philips, while admirers of Lydia Mordkovich will not be disappointed in her Chandos recording with Julian Milford. But Monteiro and Santos stand brilliantly on their own (four) feet.
The Duo Concertant takes us into a very different world. On one level we hear a “purer” Stravinsky, even more distilled; on another, we hear the clear influence of Bach. The concluding “Dithyramb” has a preternatural purity and depth. Wolfgang Schneiderhan’s recording with Carl Seeman of this piece has a real sense of rightness, but Monteiro and Santos match their interpretative strength note for note; though if intriguing couplings appeal, try Eudice Shapiro and Brooks Smith on Crystal Records, where this and the Firebird pieces share disc space with Lukas Foss’ phenomenal First String Quartet.
We undergo another journey to a different kind of fairytale world, a dark fairytale, in Firebird, and it seems even more unsettled in Stravinsky’s arrangement, which sometimes seems more of a deconstruction of the original, fragile and haunting, the spare counterpoint between violin and piano offering the merest skeleton. How pure is Monteiro’s stratospheric register (and how beautiful Santos’ contribution, too) at the end of the “Ronde des princesses”. The “Berceuse” offers held-breath stasis, but with little hint of the luxury scoring of the original while the concluding “Scherzo” breezes its way delightfully to its final, deliciously dismissive gesture.
The Petrushka “Danse russe” is almost offered in the manner of an encore. Both players handle the huge ascent to the opening theme’s return brilliantly and, again, that sense of deconstruction works wonders in reframing the piece for the listener. Listen to the delicious pianistic glistenings of Santos; unfortunately, it is impossible for the piano to imitate the horn crescendos on one chord (the original horn parts are so much fun to play!) but that hardly matters. And again that rhythmic mastery of both is incredibly persuasive.
I have enjoyed several of Bruno Monteiro’s discs previously. His repertoire choices always seem stimulating: for example his recent disc of Lekeu (Brilliant Classics, Fanfare 43:1, part of that disc presented with the current pianist) or, entirely with Santos, a disc of Schulhoff’s music for violin and piano that provided huge joy (Brilliant Classics, Fanfare 40:4), Both were revelatory. This is hardly any less so, and, in bringing lesser-known Stravinsky into the spotlight, it offers a sterling service to the repertoire. The recording is excellent, beautifully present and with just the right distance between violin and piano.
Full and informative notes complete a fabulous release, one that I hope will bring you as much joy as it did to myself. Stravinsky’s music shines eternal in these often revelatory performances by Monteiro and Santos".

 

Fanfare Magazine, Jerry Dubins

Five stars: A recital of Stravinsky’s works for violin and piano to savor

"On at least five previous occasions I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing releases by violin and piano duo partners Bruno Monteiro and João Paulo Santos. Nor am I alone among Fanfare’s contributors to have received a reliably steady stream of the duo’s albums featuring the players in an almost dizzying array of repertoire, ranging from French composers Saint-Saëns, Chausson, and Franco-Beligan Lekeu; to Portuguese composer, Fernando Lopes-Graça; to the German contingent of Richard Strauss and the Schumanns, Robert and Clara; to Czech, Erwin Schulhoff, and Pole, Karol Szymanowski.
Yet, as wide-ranging as Monteiro and Santos’s musical odyssey has been, it still comes as a bit of a surprise that the next stop on their journey together should have been Stravinsky, and here’s why. Those who know their Stravinsky well are surely aware that the composer’s original works for violin and piano are so few they can be counted on two fingers of one hand; and one of those works, the Themes, Fragments, and Pieces by Giambattista Pergolesi (1925) isn’t included on the present disc, Still, it does get counted as one of the two, only because it’s a work Stravinsky originally scored for violin and piano. In the strictest sense of the word, however, it is not an unqualified original work, in that its musical material was already extant and recycled by Stravinsky from his 1920 ballet, Pulcinella.
Indeed, Stravinsky got more mileage out of Pulcinella than most folks get from a retreaded tire. To ensure his copyrights in perpetuity—or at least in his lifetime—Stravinsky was wont to republish scores of the same works with only minor changes, or to publish ostensibly “new” works that were stitched together from pre-existing ones.
The Suite italienne for violin and piano is such an example of this practice, and it’s only one of the composer’s Pulcinella-derived works—the last of them, actually—and it’s four times removed from its original source material. The first spinoff came two years after the ballet premiered in Paris under Ernest Ansermet in May of 1920, and it was an orchestral suite in 11 movements drawn from the ballet in 1922.
The next recycling came in 1925 with the above-cited Themes, Fragments, and Pieces by Giambattista Pergolesi, which was originally scored for violin and piano at the request of violinist Paul Kochánski.
Next, in 1932, cellist Gregor Piatigorsky collaborated with Stravinsky to arrange a suite of pieces in five movements from Pulcinella for cello and piano, a work that was published under the title Suite italienne. Of course, there’s nothing like a little redundancy to add confusion to the mix, and so shortly thereafter, in 1933, Stravinsky arranged the Suite italienne for violin and piano for violinist Samuel Dushkin, publishing it with the same title as the cello version. Thus, the title appears twice in the composer’s work catalog.
But here’s the kicker. The cello and violin versions are not the same work, for Stravinsky changed the order of the movements, dropped one movement from the violin version that was in the cello version (Aria) and added two new movements to the violin version that were not in the cello version (Gavotta con due Varizioni and Scherzino).
Suite italienne—Cello Version Suite italienne—Violin Version
Introduzione Introduzione
Serenata Serenata
Aria Tarantella
Tarantella Gavotta con due Varizioni
Minuetto e Finale Scherzino
Minuetto–Finale
Monteiro and Santos perform the violin and piano version as it’s shown in the righthand column, a work four generations removed from its original source in the ballet, Pulcinella.
Much the same is true of all but one of the works on Monteiro and Santos’s album. It’s not their fault. For whatever reason, Stravinsky just didn’t favor violinists and pianists with much original duo music, although most of the violin and piano arrangements are his.
The year 1932 gave birth to another such offspring, the Divertimento for Violin and Piano, a four-movement work, this one made up of numbers from Stravinsky’s 1928 ballet, The Fairy’s Kiss, which, in turn, was based on pieces by Tchaikovsky. But Stravinsky wasn’t done with The Fairy’s Kiss. For after the Divertimento for Violin and Piano arrangement, just as with Pulcinella, he extracted an orchestral suite from The Fairy’s Kiss in 1934, publishing it with the same title, Divertimento.
There’s no disguising the Three Pieces from The Firebird or the Danse Russe from Petrushka with abstract formal titles, such as Suite or Divertimento. They are exactly what they say there are.
And so that leaves the Duo Concertante, also from 1932. As far as I know, it’s Stravinsky’s one and only originally composed work for violin and piano that is not drawn from one of his ballets and is therefore an entirely new and independent work. It, too, was written for Samuel Dushkin.
Turnabout being fair play, however, the Duo Concertante underwent transformation in the opposite direction, when it was choreographed by George Balanchine for a ballet of sorts to be performed by two dancers at the 1972 Stravinsky Festival. Stravinsky had no knowledge of Balanchine’s use of his work, nor could he have approved or disapproved of it, having died the year before.
Despite the fact that there’s so little truly original music for violin and piano duo by Stravinsky—i.e., not arranged from pre-existing sources—players have had to rely on recording programs similar or even identical to this one, made up of the composer’s own arrangements of numbers from his ballets. Ray Chen and Timothy Young, for example, offered an enthusiastically received program by Robert Maxham in 35:1 that differed from Monteiro and Santos’s program only in substituting the Themes, Fragments, and Pieces by Giambattista Pergolesi in place the Suite italienne.
Isabelle van Keulen and Olli Mustonen went them one better, putting out a two-disc set on Philips that included additional pieces in collaborative arrangements by Stravinsky and Dushkin from Mavra and The Nightingale. Stravinsky and Dushkin were, after all, close friends who toured and concertized together, and these short arrangements likely served them as encore pieces, while further familiarizing audiences with Stravinsky’s music.
If, based on everything said above, I’ve conveyed the impression that I don’t find these Stravinsky arrangements for violin and piano all that compelling, even if the composer did make them himself, it’s only because I think they sound better, and I prefer to hear them, in their original settings. That, however, is a matter of personal taste. There is no intent to suggest that violinists shouldn’t play them. Indeed, and to the contrary, I would submit that any violinist who does choose to play them, should only prove as capable of doing so as does Bruno Monteiro.
In the Pergolesi-Pulcinella derived Suite italienne, Monteiro perfectly captures the lilting gracefulness and coy glances of a commedia dell’arte tableau.
The fairy in Stravinsky’s Le Baiser de la fée (The Fairy’s Kiss) is no sugar plum, despite the fact that pieces by Tchaikovsky served as a source for the music. The scenario of Stravinsky’s ballet is based on a very dark Hans Christian Andersen’s short story, The Ice-Maiden. The ballet is not often staged, a result no doubt of its unappealing storyline.
This fairy is one nasty piece of work. She steals an infant from his mother and plants a kiss on his forehead that seals his fate for the rest of his life. Always lurking in the shadows, the fairy stalks the youth as he grows into manhood and falls in love. The fairy dons a disguise to trick the young man into believing she is his fiancée, and by the time he realizes the fairy’s treachery, it’s too late. His fiancée is gone, and the Ice-Maiden drags him off to the Land Beyond Time and Place to remain there with her for all eternity.
The disturbing aspect of the story is its amorality. There’s no reason for or point to the cruelty and suffering visited upon an innocent soul simply to provide a sadistic harpy with an unwitting partner for her sick and twisted game. Tchaikovsky would have been appalled; his fairies are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. I’d be loath to say that Monteiro’s playing in the Divertimento is characterized by cruelty, but there is an iciness to his tone, and in Santos’s touch, that conveys the unmistakable point of this music.
The Duo Concertante, as the album note suggests, is “the chamber music counterpart of the Violin Concerto,” both of which were dedicated to and premiered by Dushkin. Much of Stravinsky’s familiar neo-Classical driving rhythms, angular melodic lines, and sharp dissonance are prime elements in both the Concerto and the Duo Concertante. The latter is performed here by Monteiro with expert skill in the tongue-in-cheek, if not cheeky, clucking and squealing of the second movement (Eglogue I); with moving expression in the lyrically touching third movement (Eglogue II); and with real cockiness in the jaunt of the fourth movement (Gigue).
The concluding movement remains enigmatic in its designation, Dithyrambe, which according to the dictionary, was a frenzied, impassioned choric hymn and dance of ancient Greece. Stravinsky, I’d have thought, would be more mindful of musical nomenclatures, especially in his works of neo-Classical bent, but this concluding movement of the Duo Concertante doesn’t accord at all with the character of its named archetype. To the contrary, it has been described as “tragic,” and as “the most lyrically beautiful music Stravinsky ever wrote.” One can easily believe that, listening to this heartfelt performance by Bruno Monteiro and João Paulo Santos.
For their Duo Concertante alone, I would give this release my strongest recommendation. But I would add that if you also appreciate Stravinsky’s arrangements of his ballet numbers for violin and piano, Monteiro and Santos’s performances are the way to hear them".

 

Sonograma Magazine, Carme Miró

“This recording is the chronicle of the Portuguese violinist Bruno Monteiro who, through the scores of Igor Stravinsky, rediscovered a sonorous paradise. Accompanied by Lisbon-born pianist João Paulo Santos, Monteiro analyzes the music of the Russian composer with a selection of works for violin and piano. Many of them are transcriptions of the great ballets written and premiered in the first decades of the last century. Starting with The Italian Suite, of which there are three scores with significant differences, based on themes, fragments and pieces by Giambattista Pergolesi, dating from 1925. The suite contains, with the exception of the brief Scherzino, a transcript of five of the eleven movements of the orchestral suite extracted from Pulcinella, from 1922. The version performed in this album contains six movements in a different order from the original, with the addition of a Scherzino. This version is still the most played for its variety of different movements, which stand out for the cleanness of the melodic line. Bruno Monteiro brilliantly expresses this stylistic purity enriched by a wonderful rhythmic impulse.

The Fairy´s Kiss, written in the spring of 1932, is a tribute to Tchaikovsky. In fact, for this work, Stravinsky composed his Divertimento, with the theme of the ballet Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty. In this sense, Stravinsky said the opposite: the 1934 orchestral suite (The Fairy's Bes suite) is essentially an orchestration of Divertimento. Bruno Monteiro and João Paulo Santos instill character in this work and give it almost enigmatic power. In fact, they give great depth to the very distinguished Stravinsky, who was nothing more than a great fascination for dance.

The Concerting Duo is a work that contrasts with the other two due to the austerity with which the composer builds the five movements. We highlight the Dithyrambe which, as is known, was an ancient Greek hymn sung and danced in honor of Dionysus. The composer recreates a bucolic world of very pleasant sounds.

Following are the Three Pieces of Firebird, KC 10, which are small miniatures, transcribed for violin and piano from the music of the aforementioned ballet.

Danse Russe is also a virtuoso piece, transcribed in 1933 from the Petrushka ballet (1911), with revisions by Dushkin.

The two musicians brilliantly created a musical performance that generates a virtuoso circle between orchestration and transcription”.

 

Rádio Cultura de São Paulo, João Marcos Coelho

CD of the Week

“(…) Violinist Bruno Monteiro and pianist João Paulo Santos form one of the most qualified duos that Portugal has produced in recent decades. Since 2000, they have covered the vast classical, romantic and modern repertoire.
Their most recent adventure - which was on this album released in the Netherlands about two months ago - reproduces what would be one of those recitals by the duo Stravinsky-Dushkin. If you listen to the Introduction to the Italian Suite, you will be immediately captured by the beauty and accessibility of this music, which is pure thin biscuit designed for the masses”.

 

Nieuwe Noten, Ben Taffijn

"In the 1930s, Igor Stravinsky wrote several works for violin and piano, in collaboration with violinist Samuel Dushkin. Sometimes this was a new piece, but much more often it involved adaptations (or parts of) pieces that Stravinsky had previously composed for a different formation. Violinist Bruno Monteiro and pianist João Paulo Santos recently recorded many of these works for Et'cetera.
The oldest piece is the 'Suite Italienne', of six movements, for which Stravinsky used parts of his 'Pulcinella' ballet. In 1925, he wrote the first version for violinist Paul Kochanski; in 1932 the second - now for cello and piano and in 1933 the version we found on this album. By the way, this is the version that is most performed. The basis of the piece is the Commedia dell'arte and in the music attributed to Giovanni Pergolesi a century ago. It was Sergei Djagilev who asked for an adaptation to Stravinsky. The music is obviously danceable, with a nod to the Renaissance, but according to the story there is also clearly a sad tone. An atmosphere that Monteiro and Santos know how to achieve.

'Divertimento', also from 1932, based Stravinsky’s ballet music for 'Le baiser de la fée' or in English 'The Fairy Kiss' of 1928, combined with pieces from' Humoresque, opus 10 'and' Nocturne, opus 19 ', both by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Stronger than the Italienne suite, in part because Stravinsky was not attached to the Renaissance pattern here, this piece has a clear dramatic tone. In addition, the strong pace stands out, for example, in the 'Danses Suisses'. Stravinsky also adapted parts for his violets 'L'Oiseau de Feu' and 'Petroesjka' for violin and piano. The most impressive is the calm 'Prélude et Ronde des princess', the first part of the three-part suite he touches. Based on L'Oiseau de Feu.
Along with Stravinsky, Dushkin also debuted the 'Duo Concertant' on October 23, 1932. the only piece in this series that Stravinsky did not build on existing work. In "Cantilene", the two instruments clearly follow their own path, to complement each other beautifully in "Epilogue I". Again, a powerful rhythm, which is a particular challenge for the violinist, that Monteiro knows exactly how to deal with. Also special is 'Gigue', loosely based on Bach".

 

Klassik Heute, Stefan Pieper

Artistic Quality: 10; Sound: 9; General impression: 9;

“In Stravinsky's chamber music for small orchestras, like his Suite Italienne or his Divertimento, we love the light handling of classical diction, the explicit humor from a cosmopolitan and modern perspective. As much as Stravinsky further developed the colors of the orchestra, he also liked to group the composition material into smaller versions - and his rarely heard versions for violin and piano come largely from his own pen.

Playful and with incredible technology

If you want to face all of Stravinsky's sensual spirit with a solo instrument, you need maneuverability, you need to master a dazzling range of expressions - violinist Bruno Monteiro definitely leaves nothing to be desired and he can count on pianist João Paulo Santos as a sovereign partner!
Courageous, enthusiastic about playing and blessed with amazing technology, both immerse themselves in the adventure. This consists of nothing less than grouping the variety of orchestral colors in the violin and piano duo. Where larger ensembles call for the variety of colors of all the instruments involved, Bruno Monteiro alone evokes a no less luminous palette of changing line styles, dedicated accents, pressure to change strings, flagolets or the opposite. Sometimes this seems almost radical, but it always serves the plausibly object. The character of the song can be experienced again, but it remains true to itself.

Bold sound prints

With a wide line, Monteiro puts the introduction of the Suite Italienne in a corner and also develops enough style and variety of dance in the following movements. Bold sound impressions, researching harmonic adventures, a more subtle interaction of light and shadow herald a new era in the subsequent The Fairy Kiss Divertimento. Even more expression and courage for dissonance breathe the spirit of a new present and uncertain future at the Duo Concertant.

It is no wonder that the three pieces of the Firebird Suite form an equally multifaceted concentrate. Flagolet effects without vibrato, hard percussive impulses and repetitive motor skills - all this is what Monteiro calls strings, while the piano scales keep everything running like a perpetual motion machine. Clear the stage for the grand finale, Petruschka's "Danse Russe"! Here, too, the violin is heavy, harsh and never softened and in soft speech with its partner on the piano. At that moment, one can think that Stravinsky composed all this for these two experienced chamber musicians from Portugal”.

 

MusicWeb International, Stephen Barber

Gentle and tender performances of most of Stravinsky’s music for violin and piano

"Stravinsky had disliked the combination of strings with piano, and he got involved for writing for violin and piano through a roundabout route. His publisher at Schotts, Willy Strecker, persauded him to write a violin concerto for the young violinist Samuel Dushkin. Dushkin was a good, if not a great, violinist, but he was also a cultivated musician and he got on well with the composer. Stravinsky also needed repertoire to play in concerts, so he wrote the Duo Concertant for Dushkin and himself to play together, and this, together with a number of transcriptions from his own works made a concert programme which they toured together for some years.

Stravinsky was not a violinist and worked closely with Dushkin on writing for the violin and most of the transcriptions are credited to the two of them. Earlier on, Stravinsky had also made some different transcriptions of the same works for the violinist Paul Kochanski, though where there is also a Dushkin version, this has usually superseded the earlier one.
~
Here we have most of this repertoire. Right from the beginning, in the Suite italienne, which is based on the ballet Pulcinella, I realized that we would not be getting the usual flamboyant performance of this delightful work, but rather a gentle and tender one, jaunty in the fast movements and graceful in the slower ones and not as brisk as usual. It is an unusual take on the work and I enjoyed it.

Next we have the Divertimento based on music from the ballet The Fairy’s Kiss, itself based on music by Tchaikovsky, whom Stravinsky, rather surprisingly perhaps, greatly admired. This is nothing like as well known as Pulcinella but the playing continues the light and dancing feeling, which includes some stratospherically high writing for the violin.

The centrepiece of the recital is the Duo Concertant itself, the only original work Stravinsky wrote for this combination. This is a strange work, The composer said that it was inspired by the pastoral poets of antiquity and specifically by Virgil’s eclogues, and also that a single theme was developed throughout the five movements.
True, the slower movements have the grave beauty of the arias of the violin concerto, which he had just written, and of Apollo of some years earlier, though I do not find anything particularly Virgilian about them, but the Gigue seems Rossinian and is also surprisingly long-winded for Stravinsky. In this movement too the playing seems occasionally laboured.

We then have three pieces from The Firebird. The Prélude et ronde des princesses is called a Khorovod in the original; this transcription was one of those for Kochanski rather than Dushkin. The Berceuse is Dushkin’s version, as is the Scherzo, which in the ballet is the princesses’ game with the golden apples. Finally we have the Russian Dance from Petrushka, another Dushkin version.

To all these works the Portuguese violinist Bruno Monteiro brings his thoughtful and rather introspective approach, well supported by his compatriot and longterm chamber music colleague João Paulo Santos. They are given a sympathetic chamber-music acoustic which well suits their interpretations. However, I should point out that this is not, as the booklet states, the entire concert programme which Stravinsky and Dushkin toured. The Stravinsky scholar Eric Walter White explains that they also made and played transcriptions from the operas The Nightingale and Mavra as well as the early Pastorale. The recital on Hyperion by Anthony Marwood with Thomas Adès – here showing himself to be no mean pianist – includes all of these and one or two other things, but replaces the Suite italienne with the earlier and rarer suite from Pulcinella, which Stravinsky made for Kochanski. That means it spills over to a second disc, but the two are priced and packaged as one. However, if you prefer the later and arguably better version of the Pulcinella suite and are happy to forego the extra items, this version will do very well".

 

Jornal de Letras, Maria Augusta Gonçalves

The violins of Stravinsky

“ (…) It is in this universe that the new album by violinist Bruno Monteiro and pianist João Paulo Santos moves, a universe that is necessarily challenging, due to the intrinsic nature of the works and the joint work of both musicians, which has now been close to two decades, with a dozen albums and a vast repertoire, so unique and diverse, ranging from Schulhoff, Szymanowski, Korngold or Lopes-Graça, to Schumann, Grieg or César Franck. (...)

The composer brings together the impossible: austere rigor, which prevents the interpreter from proceeding with any 'game' over time, and the lyricism that the very structure of the first and last movements requires. Monteiro and Santos are experts in combining the temperaments that the composer seems to define, opening the way to the understanding of a demanding work (Duo Concertant), which grows in technical difficulty, especially in the Giga, and which ends in a deep reflection, refering to the Violin Concerto.

The Suite Italienne, from "Pulcinella", which opens the CD, has different transcriptions by Stravinsky and Dushkin himself. Monteiro and Santos choose to play the version of the violinist, from 1934, adding a 'Scherzino', in favor of the clarity of the speech and the apprehension of the work, in the timbre and rhythmic spectrum. In particular, the Tarantella of the third movement stands out, with its percussive effects, in which Santos' piano and Monteiro's violin cleverly emphasize Stravinsky's demanding language. (...)

Monteiro and Santos also surpass the hard test of the three pieces of "Firebird", in a path that is made of introspection and meditation, until the Scherzo, where virtuosity, after all, is a point of honor.

Finally, as an 'encore' of the recital, the "Danse Russe" of "Petrushka" appears, the sequence that determined the composition of the ballet by Diaghilev, transcribed as a demonstration of what violin and piano are capable, together, in its best. The two interpreters honor the determination.

Bruno Monteiro and João Paulo Santos not only offer a tour of Stravinsky's essential works for violin and piano. They also make it possible to see how this path was taken in understanding the capabilities of the instruments and how transcriptions were essential in the process. In practice, they do not forget how Stravinsky assimilated all the styles he dealt with, and built an immense work that remains capable of surpassing itself”.

 

Pizzicato Magazine, Remy Franck

Chamber music by Stravinsky played with imagination

*****
“The Portuguese violinist Bruno Monteiro and the pianist Joao Paulo Santos turn to a little played repertoire, the chamber music of Igor Stravinsky. And yet, in this programme, we are also very close to the composer’s ballet music.

The Suite Italienne uses mainly themes from the ballet Pulcinella, which in turn goes back to Pergolesi, just as Le Baiser de la Fée refers to Tchaikovsky.

At the same time, the works have a reference to Samuel Dushkin, a violinist who had ordered a Violin Concerto from Stravinsky, which the composer was reluctant to accept because he did not really feel at home with the genre. However, over lunch together, the two of them came to an agreement. Stravinsky wrote not only his Violin Concerto for Dushkin, but also the Duo Concertant. And Dushkin assisted him with the transcription of the music from the ballets, because, after the success of the Violin Concerto, Stravinsky wanted to tour with his friend Samuel with music for violin and piano. The tour consisted of concerts in Königsberg, Ostrava, Hamburg, Paris, Budapest, Milan, Turin, Rome and other cities.

In the transcribed ballet music Bruno Monteiro shows that the music is actually far from the orchestral original and probably closer to what Stravinsky may have had in mind when composing at the piano. The violinist’s playing is immensely imaginative and rhythmically precise, so that the moods are worked out very sharply. Especially when it comes to irony or burlesque, the performance is very characteristic and spicy. The violinist’s sharp and agile playing is a perfect match for this repertoire, just as his rhythmic accuracy makes the sequence of contrasts coherent.

The Duo Concertant is de facto a highly original five-movement sonata, of which Stravinsky said that he tried to create « a lyrical work of musical condensation ». Nevertheless, there are plenty of sharp interactions in this masterpiece, which Monteiro plays expressively. After the ravishing gigue he lets the slow Dithyrambe intensively blossom in all its austere beauty.

With technically and expressively outstanding performances and a good sound recording, this Etcetera production is highly recommendable”.

 

Classical Candor, John Puccio

“As time wears on, people tend more and more to forget the details of a celebrity’s life and remember only the highlights. So it may be with Igor Stravinsky, whom most folks might only know for his three early, revolutionary ballets, The Firebird (1910), Petrushka (1911), and The Rite of Spring (1913). But the man lived a very long time (1882-1971), lived in both Europe and America, and passed through several musical stages in his lifetime, from the avant-garde to the neoclassical to his final, serial years.

The items presented on the current album are from Stravinsky neoclassical period, around 1920-1950 or so. The specific musical numbers are the Suite italienne for Violin and Piano (1925), the Divertimento for Violin and Piano from The Fairy’s Kiss (1932), the Duo Concertant for Violin and Piano (1932), Three Pieces for Violin and Piano from The Firebird, and the Danse Ruse for Violin and Piano from Petrushka (1933). In fact, according to a booklet note, the program included here is the same one that the composer and pianist Samuel Duskin presented as a single concert many times across Europe in the 1930’s.

The violinist is Bruno Monteiro, whose work I have reviewed before. According to Monteiro’s biography, the Portuguese violinist is "heralded by the daily Publico as 'one of Portugal's premier violinists' and by the weekly Expresso as 'one of today's most renowned Portuguese musicians.' Bruno Monteiro is internationally recognized as a distinguished violinist of his generation. Fanfare describes him as having a 'burnished golden tone' and Strad states that his 'generous vibrato produces radiant colors.' Music Web International refers to interpretations as having a 'vitality and an imagination that are looking unequivocally to the future' and that reach an 'almost ideal balance between the expressive and the intellectual.' Gramophone praises his ‘unfailing assurance and eloquence,’ and Strings Magazine summarizes that he is 'a young chamber musician of extraordinary sensitivity.'"

Monteiro’s longtime collaborator is Spanish pianist Joao Paulo Santos, a graduate of the Lisbon National Conservatory and student in Paris of Aldo Ciccolini. For the past forty-odd years Santos has worked with the Teatro Nacional de S. Carlos, the Lisbon Opera House, first as Chief Chorus Conductor and more recently as Director of Musical and Stage Studies. He has also distinguished himself as an opera conductor, concert pianist, and researcher of less-known and forgotten Portuguese composers.

Together, Monteiro and Santos make a formidable team. Now, as to the music, if you’re not a serious Stravinsky aficionado, you may be surprised. These selections are among his neoclassical period, as I mentioned, starting with the Suite italienne. If it sounds familiar, it ought to. It comprises a part of the composer’s Pulcinello Suite of a few years earlier. As always, Monteiro uses his violin as a second voice, the instrument singing radiantly, and Santos’s unaffected accompaniment flawlessly highlights the violin’s lyrical message.

The rest of the program follows suit. The music and the playing are elegant and refined as befit the period. The Divertimento on The Fairy’s Kiss is generally lighter, airier, and sprightlier than most of the other pieces on the disc. Yet the music’s rhythms continue to thrust it forward, and Monteiro makes the most of its continuously fluctuating contrasts. (At various times I thought I was listening to Honegger’s steam train or Leroy Anderson’s waltzing cat.) The music is fun, and Monteiro and Santos appear to be having a good time with it. Even the Adagio has its lighthearted moments.

The Duo Concertant seems to me the most serious music on the agenda. Also, it is perhaps the most “modern” of these neoclassical pieces in its sometimes strange and haunting variables. The Firebird music hardly needs explanation, but as performed here, it takes on a more melancholy aspect than usual. Monteiro in a booklet note calls it an “ethereal” or “magical” quality. Whatever, it is fascinating. The Danse Ruse, drawn from Petrushka, that concludes the program is energetic without being boisterous and rounds out the proceedings with a fine flair.

Producer Bruno Monteiro and engineer Jose Fortes recorded the music at Igreja da Cartuxa, Caxias, Portugal in November 2019. The solo violin sound is clear and resonant, quite realistic. The piano accompaniment is equally good, if a tad close. Still, it’s some of the best violin and piano sound you’ll find on any recording, so all is well”.

 

Classical Music Daily, Giuseppe Pennisi

Gentle and Tender Stravinsky 'The two players are an excellent duo: Bruno Monteiro on violin and João Paulo Santos at the piano.'

"Igor Stravinsky was a prolific composer in all kinds of music genres, yet his chamber music is not generally well known. His chamber music production belongs to two different periods of his life and career. Firstly, when he moved to Switzerland during World War I and, especially after the war, when he transferred to Biarritz, where he developed a quite close collaboration with violinist Samuel Dushkin (1891-1976). Most biographers state that Stravinsky was unlikely to have written a string concerto had it not been for his publisher who introduced him to Samuel Dushkin. Secondly, when in the United States after World War II, he had a short-lived flirt with serialism and composed the experimental Septet in 1953.

As noted by musicologist Richard Whitehouse, the main reason for Stravinsky's interest in this violin and piano combination was out of pragmatic, indeed commercial considerations. Although commissions were still forthcoming in the period following World War I, the need to support his family as well as the inaccessibility of his Russian estate led him into becoming an active commercial musician. He sustained a secondary career as a well-paid pianist too. Dushkin proved an adaptable as well as a willing collaborator. He and Stravinsky worked intensively on the Violin Concerto premiered in Berlin in October 1931. The success of this work encouraged the composer to seek a longer-term partnership, not least when his concert engagements as a solo pianist were limited and his orchestral appearances diminishing due to the economic depression. The outcome was a program whereby Stravinsky and Dushkin toured England and France in 1934, America in 1935 and elsewhere until the composer's emigration to the United States in 1939.

This CD encompasses almost all the violin and piano music he wrote during his collaboration with Dushkin, namely Suite Italienne for Violin and Piano, the Divertimento for Violin and Piano The Fairy's Kiss, Duo Concertant for Violin and Piano, Three Pieces for Violin and Piano from Firebird and Danse Russe for Violin and Piano from Petrushka. Thus, it is not an anthology or a selection but a complete recording of a very special period of Stravinsky's artistic life. In those years, he was in transition from what is generally named his Russian period to what is generally named his neoclassical period. In these violin and piano works, the careful listener can hear influences of both periods. For instance, the first three pieces owe a lot to his interest in and love for Pergolesi, while the last two compositions are full of Russian colours and flavours, also because they're based on works from his previous Russian period.

The two players are an excellent duo: Bruno Monteiro on violin and João Paulo Santos at the piano. They are both Portuguese and have major international careers. Santos is a well-known conductor too and is closely associated with the Lisbon Opera House.

Originally made in 1925 and given the somewhat fanciful title of Suite d'après des thèmes, fragments et morceaux de Giambattista Pergolesi, the Suite Italienne opens with an Introduzione. Its melodic poise and piquant harmonies set the tone for what is to follow.

Next comes a Serenata. Its essentially vocal quality translates naturally to the violin, while the energetic Tarantella features some notably incisive interplay between the two instruments. The heart of the suite comes with the Gavotte. Its theme is a link between the Baroque and the Modern eras.

The Scherzino places no mean emphasis on phrasing and intonation. The final two movements unfold continuously: the Minuetto builds from its chaste beginning to an eloquent climax. The Finale sets off at an energetic pace and exudes engaging humour on its way to an effervescent conclusion.

With Suite Italienne, the Duo Concertant is Stravinsky's only other original work for his partnership with Dushkin. The opening Cantilene is notable for a particularly close integration of the instruments, drawing a great deal of impetus from the contrast between its seamless violin lines and detached piano chords, prior to the quiet though uncertain close.

There follow two movements that are entitled Eglogue. The first of these is a study in pungent harmonies and rhythms, while the second features gently undulating violin phrases and pensive responses from the piano. The Gigue has the feel of an oblique take on the Tarantella dance-measure, with the violin's frequent changes of rhythmic emphasis.

After this, the final Dithyrambe feels the more understated in its inwardness. For all that it reaches the work's climax.

The other pieces are substantial arrangements made with Dushkin. The Divertimento is taken from Tchaikovsky's ballet Le baiser de la fée (The Fairy's Kiss). The adagio (Pas-de-deux) is charming.

The Three Pieces for Violin and Piano from Firebird and Danse Russe for Violin and Piano from Petrushka are paraphrases of the two ballets - pleasant but not on a par with the originals.

In short, this is a gentle and tender Stravinsky in his partnership with Dushkin".