Evocation: Violin Works by Paul Ben-Haim (SACD)

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Itamar Zorman, Amy Yang, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Philippe Bach

Paul Frankenburger left his native Germany in 1933 in response to the National Socialists’ rise to power. Up to that point he had been fully immersed in the German tradition and his compositions followed in the footsteps of the great German post-Romantics like Mahler. Yet after arriving to the British Mandate of Palestine, not only did he change his name to Paul Ben-Haim, but his compositional style underwent a profound change as well. Devised by the young violinist Itamar Zorman, this album tracks how the music of the region gradually became an integral part of Ben-Haim’s compositions. Six works spanning four decades represent different stages in this process of synthesis between East and West, the transformation of Frankenburger into Ben-Haim. Zorman, a prize-winner in the 2011 Tchaikovsky Competition, is supported by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Philippe Bach in the opening Evocation (Yizkor) from 1942, and the Violin Concerto, as well as in the arrangement (by the father of the soloist) of a Toccata, originally composed for the piano. These are interspersed by Three Songs without Words and Berceuse sfaradite, one of Ben-Haim’s most popular works, in which Itamar Zorman is partnered by pianist Amy Yang. Also part of the programme is Ben-Haim’s last composition for the violin, the Three Studies for Solo Violin, written in 1981 for Yehudi Menuhin.

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The Observer

"His music embraced change, shifting from European post-Romantic to Middle Eastern influenced harmonies...This is especially evident in the Violin Concerto (1960), and in the Three Studies for Solo Violin (1981)...It’s superbly played by the young violinist Itamar Zorman, making his recording debut"

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Paul Ben-Haim (1897–1984)

  • 1. Evocation (Yizkor) for violin and orchestra (1942)
  • 2-4. Three Songs without Words (1951) for violin and piano
  • 5-7. Violin Concerto (1960)
  • 8–10. Three Studies for solo violin (1981)
  • 11. Berceuse sfaradite for violin and piano (1945)
  • 12. Toccata from Five Pieces for Piano, Op. 34 (arranged for violin and orchestra by Moshe Zorman)