RALPH SHAPEY (1921-2002): Violin Sonata, Violin Sonata No. 3, Sonata No. 1 for Solo Violin, Adagio and Allegro for Violin and Piano, 4 Etudes for Violin.

Catalogue Number: 02M080

Label: Centaur

Reference: CRC 3103

Format: CD

Price: $16.98

Description: Shapey described himself as 'a classicist structurally, a romantic emotionally and a modernist harmonically', which succinctly sums up what one should expect to hear in these pieces for his own instrument. Strict structures, often straightforwardly classical in form, detailed, intricate though always immaculately clear counterpoint, and angular, jagged insistence of melodic argument are primary characteristics of this music, alongside a formidable exploitation of violin technique. The early sonata has something in common with the music of his teacher, Wolpe; highly chromatic, rather severe in mood. The late 3rd Sonata, by contrast, tends more in the direction of Romanticism and tonality. The work, also in 4 movements though in a less conventional layout, is more intricately linear. The solo sonata lies between the two, and employs the characteristic irregular rhythms and unexpected harmonies of the composer's mature style. The level of instrumental virtuosity is also high, and the same is true of the formidable Etudes, four expressive, contrasting character-pieces all built on the material of the first. Miranda Cuckson (violin), Blair McMillen (piano).

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