Five Melodies for Violin and Piano Op. 35bis was composed in California in 1925, placing the work in the composer's early period. The watershed is usually regarded as being 1934, when the composer returned permanently to his homeland after several years spent mainly in the USA and France. Following his return there was a marked settling in style which made his music more approachable. Many of the works written before this time, in Russia and abroad, were amongst his most radical.
Five Melodies is nevertheless an exception to the uncomfortable angularity of the early period. it is exactly what its name suggests, a work of the utmost lyricism. So much so that the composer published it in the first place in a version for vioce - a wordless vocalise for soprano and piano, op. 35. These days, the violin version is more frequently performed than the original vacal version. The reason may be a technical one: the highly-figured, virtuosic lines of the vocalise make exceptional demands on a singer's technique and intervallic accuracy, and require an instrumental grip on the voice into the bargain. This same texture comes perfectly naturally to the violin, without in any way smacking of an arrangement.
Program note by Matti Raekallio
Ondine recording (ODE 807-2):
Ilya Grubert, violin;
Matti Raekallio, piano
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