Elizabeth Chang, Steven Beck & Alberto Parrini – Transformations (2021) [FLAC 24bit/48kHz]

Elizabeth Chang, Steven Beck & Alberto Parrini – Transformations (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 01:02:52 minutes | 659 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © Albany Records

American violinist Elizabeth Chang’s new album Transformations on Albany Records brings together works by Leon Kirchner (1919-2009), Roger Sessions (1896-1985) and Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951). As can be seen from the press release, this is about teacher-student relationships. Chang was a student of Leon Kirchner at Harvard University. Kirchner, for his part, studied with both Sessions and Schoenberg. The program begins with Kirchner’s Second Duo for Violin and Piano, a modern piece from 2002 alternating between lively and very delicately lyrical moments. Elizabeth Chang and Steven Beck play it intensely with the utmost commitment, the violinist continually delighting with ravishing cantabile. Roger Sessions’ four-movement solo sonata for violin is, according to the composer, « rhapsodic. » The first movement is of fragile lyricism, the second and the Finale are virtuosic and brilliant, while the Adagio in Elisabeth Chang’s interpretation becomes gorgeously tender, like a modern lullaby. Chang and cellist Alberto Parrini perform Robert Sessions’ Duo for Violin and Cello with real flair and commitment. Like Sessions’ Duo, Schoenberg’s Phantasy for Violin with Piano Accompaniment, Op. 47 (1949), is the composer’s last chamber work. The dodecaphonic composition is virtuosic and sometimes genuinely dance-like, while being really technically challenging in the violin part. But Elizabeth Chang masters this brilliantly and elegantly at the same time, her playing standing out pleasantly to my ears from the far more brash approach of a Gidon Kremer. And so the line of excellent interpretations runs through a program of transformations…

The Transformations title of this album is apt, for all of the music on this release is linked by personal and generational ties, as well as by the serialist idea. Violinist Elizabeth Chang was a student of composer Leon Kirchner at Harvard, and Kirchner was a student of both Roger Sessions and Arnold Schoenberg, with the former having come under the strong influence of the latter. It’s interesting that the pieces on this album are all late works; Schoenberg’s Phantasy for violin and piano (1949) was one of his last works, and the Duo for violin and cello of Sessions and Kirchner’s Duo No. 2 for violin and piano were both written when their composers were well into their 80s. Some later composers rejected serialism in favor of Romantic-influenced styles later in life. These composers did not do that, but one can nevertheless detect an orientation toward emotional expression in these pieces. Chang puts it nicely in a short note when she writes that “Kirchner’s voice reflects the thorny complexity of modernism while palpably reaching for the sensuality of the musical language of a previous era,” and in her hands, and those of pianist Steven Beck, this is true of all the music here. The music is still not for those who reject the radical dissociation from the musical language of the surrounding society that serialism entails, but as a tracing of the development of serialist thought through the works of Schoenberg’s followers, this is both clear and impassioned.


1. Elizabeth Chang & Steven Beck – Duo No. 2 for Violin and Piano (15:04)
2. Elizabeth Chang – Solo Sonata: I. Tempo moderato (10:47)
3. Elizabeth Chang – Solo Sonata: II. Molto vivo (06:30)
4. Elizabeth Chang – Solo Sonata: III. Adagio e dolcemente (09:14)
5. Elizabeth Chang – Solo Sonata: IV. Alla marcia vivace (04:34)
6. Elizabeth Chang & Alberto Parrini – Duo for Violin and Cello (08:21)
7. Elizabeth Chang & Steven Beck – Phantasy (08:20)