Stravinsky: Diversions

Blair Sanderson

Igor Stravinsky's collaboration with violinist Samuel Dushkin in the 1930s was extraordinarily productive, yielding not only the Violin Concerto, but also a number of works for violin and piano that the two musicians performed in recitals. Following the successful premiere of the concerto, Stravinsky composed the Duo Concertante, and then worked with Dushkin on a number of arrangements drawn from his earlier orchestral works. Of the pieces selected for this CD, only the Suite after Pergolesi, based on Pulcinella, was originally written with another violinist in mind; however, the revised version of this piece, the Suite Italienne, was indeed conceived as a Dushkin vehicle. The Divertimento, adapted from The Fairy's Kiss, the Chanson Russe, borrowed from Mavra, and the "Danse Russe" from Petrushka were but a few of the shorter offerings that Dushkin and Stravinsky performed. Violinist Ray Chen and pianist Timothy Young play these chamber works with a fine understanding of Stravinsky's special sonorities and Dushkin's virtuosic effects, and shape the music with the sensitivity and delicacy of feeling that Stravinsky prized in Dushkin's playing. Fans of Stravinsky will certainly enjoy this highly polished album, but newcomers to the composer will find it equally appealing for its abundant melodies, piquant tone colours, and playful exchanges. Chen and Young are a delightfully spontaneous and effective duo, and their debut on Melba promises them a bright future.