Roger Sessions: Music for Violin and Piano
This new recording presents three major Sessions scores in stunningly virtuosic performances. A sonata in all but name, the Duo sees Sessions casting off the Stravinskian residue that had typified his earliest efforts. Rhythmically sturdy, the music provides something of a justification for the “American Brahms” moniker critics routinely applied to Sessions. The fiendishly difficult solo Sonata for Violin
is in four interlinked movements. It is a “rhapsodic” (Sessions’s word) score, that is among the finest works in the solo violin literature. Sessions's masterful Second Sonata was completed in the days following World War 2. Andor Foldes, the commissioning pianist, reckoned the 2nd movement “almost Chopinesque,” while the finale, a sardonic toccata, (Sessions called it “a goose step”) is a caricature of the Nazi Stormtroopers he had seen firsthand in Berlin. Though some of the contrasting music put Sessions in mind of the doleful-sounding foghorns in San Francisco Bay, the vehemence unleashed ultimately sweeps all else before it, topping off one of the most trenchant, dynamic piano works in the American literature.
“Bowling and Holzman have mastered the often very demanding writing for their respective instruments and play with real flair and commitment. Sessions is worth getting to know and this recording is most welcome.” - MusicWeb International
“This release works on many levels. It chronicles an important phase of Roger Session’s career when his style moved from neo-classical to embrace serialism. It also is an enjoyable listening experience. The recording quality is very good, as are the performances.” - Finding Beauty in Ephemera