20th CENTURY EXPRESSIONS (NUM 1173)

KAROL SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937)
Sonata para Violino e Piano em Ré menor Op.9
Sonata for Violin and Piano in d minor Op.9

1. Allegro moderato-Patetico
2. Andantino tranquillo e dolce (quasi candeza)
3. Finale: Allegro molto, quasi presto

ERNEST BLOCH (1880-1959)
Sonata n.1 para Violino e Piano
Sonata n.1 for Violin and Piano

4. Agitato
5. Molto quieto
6. Finale: Moderato-Lento assai

ERICH WOLFGANG KORNGOLD (1897-1957)
Much Ado About Nothing Op.11
7. Bridal Morning (Maden in Bridel Chamber)
8. Dogberry and Verges (March of the Sentinel)
9. The Garden Scene (Intermezzo)
10. Masquerade (Hornpipe)

 

Classical.net, Brian Wigman, June 2013

“Wow. This is a wonderful, important release for anyone who's tired of the same old violin stuff over and over again. It's funny; collectors complain about the lack of musical diversity on the market, but usually shy away from discs like this because they don't feature "major" artists on "major" labels. Well, Bruno Monteiro and João Paulo Santos are major artists by any standard, having been praised on every label they've graced. They also dare to record a variety of works that are sometimes difficult to find, and other times extremely difficult to find. Frankly, I cannot stress enough how much I really enjoy their partnership; not only do they make excellent music, but there is a genuine chemistry that is very appealing.
The Szymanowski is a masterpiece of this medium. The outer movements seethe with forceful, driving movement. The inner andantino, by contrast, is as tranquil and lovely as can be. Szymanowski uses an undoubtedly modern language, but nothing turns coarse or ugly, nor does the work puzzle the listener in any way. That doesn't mean it isn't challenging; it is in the best possible way. Multiple listens confirm how well-written the work actually is, full of good tunes meshed with a solid intellectual argument. Monteiro and Santos make the work their own. While the violinist's tone has been mentioned as unique, he always serves the music with it. And Santos is his usual self, which is to say a masterful pianist working with a like-minded partner. Together, they allow the sonata to speak for itself, with excellent results.
The three-movement Bloch sonata isn't as memorable initially, but does add an important view on the composer, who is known for a select few works. I'm not convinced by the opening movement, which doesn't have the melody not tightness of form that the Szymanowski does. On the other hand, the Molto quieto is incredible. Monteiro uses his personal sound to stunning effect against Santos' rain-like accompaniment. It's haunting, and a must-hear. The work ends with a jaunty, folksy romp, and I like it. Throughout, the commitment and cogency that this pair brings to the work probably transcends the work itself. But that middle movement is something else.
The Korngold is a fun way to end a rewarding disc, and is played extremely well. As with the previous two works, Monteiro and Santos infuse the suite with a ton of character. It's here that the violinist's particular sound and style is most evident, and also most appropriate. The packaging is cool and stylish, the sound is very good indeed, and the project as a whole is as satisfying and musically rewarding as anything this pair has ever done. Excellent".

 

Público, Pedro Boléo, November 2008

"An excellent recording of two Portuguese artists that "attack" little known repertoire of three interesting and always over looked composers. As it was not enough by the fact of joining two exceptional Portuguese musicians in a collaboration of quality, this disk can help to show that the music history of the first half of the past century was not itself written with four or five names. An ensemble work, even when shines us sharp the violin of Bruno Monteiro or it comes out the piano of João Paulo Santos, nearly always an anchor, indispensable, but discrete. Hear-itself the violin of Bruno Monteiro grasping all the beauty of the lyricism (and by the middle section ironic) of the second movement of the "Sonata for violin and piano in D minor Op. 9" of Szymanowski. Or the piano of João Paulo Santos with an intense and full sound in the "Agitato" of the "Sonata n. 1" of Bloch. They are examples of good encounters with the music of these composers that challenge the traditional lineages of the "classical" music. History ignores nearly always the ramifications and the diversity of the contradictory modernisms of the 10´s and 20´s. The composer Erich Korngold is a curious case of the music history of the 20th century. He lived until 1957, and since 1934 (fleeing to the Nazism) worked in Hollywood, where he composed music for movies. The light quality of his music led some to put-him alongside the "classical" European music history. However, Korngold wrote a lot of chamber music, several operas and was always connected to new technologies, to radio, the disk, the movies, and also to the theatre. This disk includes the originally music composition for stage, for accompany "Much Ado About Nothing" ("A lot Noise by Nothing") of Shakespeare. Only afterwards he extracted from there this suite, light, suave and simple but very well written, of "classical" and tonal form. Nothing of this is found in the post-romantic and a bit worrying sonata of Bloch that finishes slow and mournful. Bruno Monteiro and João Paulo Santos discover the correct breath and hold the constant tension of the work. It is there that the happiest moment of this CD can be found".

 

Jornal de Letras, Maria Augusta Gonçalves, October 2008

"If the program of the first recording of Bruno Monteiro seemed to give the idea of a personal manifesto, in the interpretation perspective, opting for the Sonata for violin and piano of César Franck and by the third one of Edvard Grieg, two demanding, distinct and determinant works of the final romantic expression, this new CD accentuates, certainly, the challenge that the musician imposes to himself, widening the perspective to three less known composers: Karol Szymanowski, Ernest Bloch and Erich Korngold - and, through them, to the problems of an epoch. With Grieg and Franck, Bruno Monteiro risked in a fascinating world, with a repertoire wildly played; in the new recording, Monteiro recuperates contrasting and powerful testimonies of an epoch, with the confrontations and joys that marked it at all levels. It is an assertion against the forgetfulness, in which he is accompanied by João Paulo Santos. The partnership cames from the previous disk and the empathy is reinforced by the historical perpective, shared and necessarily enriched by the pianist. (...) With the Sonatas of Szymanowski and Bloch, Much I Ado About Nothing is recorded in Portugal, by the first time. Those are Bruno Monteiro and João Paulo Santos doing it, it´s not strange. It is also an advantage".

 

Expresso, Ana Rocha, November 2008

"After a first CD with Sonatas of César Franck and Grieg, Bruno Monteiro (violin) teamed up in studio with João Paulo Santos (piano) to record the first sonata of Bloch, another one by Szymanowski (op.9) and Much I Ado About Nothing, a piece that Erich Korngold composed while still young. In the second recording of the Oporto-born violinist the pieces presented are not often heard in the standard repertoire. During 64 minutes, Monteiro and Santos communicate (in the sudden blasts in the work of Szymanowski, in the abstract musical substance of Bloch´s Sonata and in the highly original work of Korngold) a pulse that they explore movement by movement, always with the shared conviction that there is a real flow between the two instruments, in a conversation never petrified".

 

Diário de Notícias, Bernardo Mariano, October 2008

"After Debut, violinist Bruno Monteiro came back choosing again the partnership of João Paulo Santos and Numerica label for his second CD. It is called 20th Century Expressions and contains three works that are among other premiere recordings in CD by a Portuguese artist: the Sonata for Violin and piano in d minor, op. 9, by Szymanowski; the Sonata for violin and piano n.1, of Bloch and the Four Pieces for violin and piano extracted from the music for theatre for the play Much Ado About Nothing by Korngold. (...) In the Szymanowski (...) undeniable intensity that flows in his reading. (...) In the Bloch, certain the zenith of this CD: in a work mentally (and physically, for sure...) exhausting, Bruno Monteiro pulls out a magnificent interpretation, always "in the thread of the knife", but receiving the reward. Finally, the Korngold, much lighter than the preceding works, has by Monteiro an irreproachable technically reading and endowed with a complete sense of character in each piece".

 

Jornal de Notícias, Rui Branco, October 2008

"After a first album with works of César Franck and Edvard Grieg, the duo Bruno Monteiro (violin) and João Paulo Santos (piano) appears with the interpretation of three less known composers of the beginning of the 20th century, Karol Szymanowski, Ernest Bloch and Erich Wolfgang Korngold. In an environment dominated by a romantic atmosphere, the highlight of this CD is the empathy of the duo and the virtuosity of the violinist that puts him between the most important Portuguese musicians of this instrument in the present time".