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Hindemith, Copland: Violin Sonatas / Bloch: Violin Sonata; Baal shem

4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 9, 1996
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Editorial Reviews

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Isaac Stern is a devotee of 20th-century music. The most recent piece, Copland's Sonata, is actually the most euphonious. Stern lets its lyrical lines sing, with excellent support from the composer at the piano. The most challenging and dramatic piece in the collection is the earliest, the Bloch Sonata, which Stern and Alexander Zakin play with all-out fervor. The Hebraic Baal Shem is one of Bloch's most often heard works, here done with great folk flavor. And Hindemith's prewar neoclassicism never sounds dry in this very knowing performance. In short, this is a great collection of 20th-century violin works that won't give anyone indigestion. --Leslie Gerber
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Product Details

  • Performer: Isaac Stern, Alexander Zakin
  • Composer: Paul Hindemith, Aaron Copland, Ernest Bloch
  • Audio CD (April 9, 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B000002A8Y
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,541 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Discophage TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 19, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Here is another intelligently conceived collection of sonatas played by Isaac Stern, making up volume 28 of Sony's tribute to the great American violinist. Stern's is joined by his usual partner of those days, Alexander Zakin, and by the composer himself in Copland's sonata. As the liner notes point out, despite their considerable stylistic differences, all three composers have in common to have ended their lives in the United States (both Hindemith and Bloch became naturalized American citizens) and their involvement with teaching (Hindemith at Yale, Bloch at Berkeley and in Cleveland, Copland in New York and Harvard).

Hindemith's terse and harmonically grating sonata was recorded as early as 1947, and was one of Stern's first recordings (his first one was Wieniawski's 2nd concerto, made in 1946). He had met the composer who was then in residence at Yale, and they played Beethoven's violin concerto together. Mono sound, a bit dry, with the piano a bit recessed and sometimes lacking harmonics, but violin well defined and surprisingly utterly no surface noise.

The Copland sonata, recorded in 1968, was originally part of an all-Copland CBS LP with the Duo for clarinet and piano and Nonet for strings. The composition is pervaded by the serene and wistful mood of Appalachian Springs, but with traces, in the first movement's slow-fast construction and especially in the piano part more radical Copland of the Piano Sonata (written three years before). It is difficult to define what is "American" music - but it is easy to recognize it. The recording has of course the full authority of the composer at the piano.
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Format: Audio CD
Isaac Stern gives a fine performance in this recording of the Hindemith, Bloch and Copland sonatas. With the new style of violin playing, it is hard to distinguish individual tehcnique; in the case of Stern, his unmistakable sound adds a charming tone to the sonatas. My favorite track is the first movement of the Copland. He takes some liberty with the specific tempi, but the lyricsm captures the essence of Aaron Copland's music. These older recordings are vital to the early 20th century rep, as they accurately display the individual composer's intents. The sound quality is lacking slightly due to the date of recording, but Sony does a good job in remastering the recording and editing studio noise.
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Format: Audio CD
I ran across the Copland sonata and this performance in the early 1970s. I was ambivalent about chamber music at the time, but the beauty of the piece won me over. The stark simplicity of the second movement was unlike anything I had heard before. The climax of the final movement echoes Appalachian Spring in mood but the triumph in the sonata seems somehow harder won.

The Hindemith and the Bloch (particularly the Bloch) are well worth hearing, too.

The CD either reveals a bit of the original's sonic limitations or wasn't done perfectly. You don't notice after the first 10 seconds, but that's the reason I only rate this 4 stars.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Seminal pieces for violin and piano by some of the most interesting composers of the 20th century...This is a must for classical enthusiasts! Isaac Stern, Alexander Zakin and Aaron Copland are in top form and each piece is stunningly beautiful to listen to.
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Probably the best interpretation of these pieces I have ever heard. One of Issac Sterns must have CD's
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