“Instrumental performances throughout are top notch…” from Martin Boykan’s “Rites of Passage: Chamber Music, 1993-2012”
– Jeremy Eichler
About Falla, Ravel, Albeniz, Poulenc, Bartok CD:
“The young American violinist Emil Altschuler has a terrific pedigree, having studied with the legendary Dorothy DeLay at Juilliard and with Erick Friedman at the Yale School of Music. His self-titled and independently released CD (emilaltschuler.com)– apparently his second solo album – features works by Falla, Ravel, Albèniz, Poulenc and Bartók, with pianist Keunyoung Sun as accompanist.
There’s a decidedly old-style feel to Altschuler’s playing, with the almost constant fast vibrato and the bright, slightly nasal tone very reminiscent of Heifetz. His website says that he plays with gut strings and without a shoulder rest, and notes that his sound is indeed reminiscent of old school masters such as his former teacher Friedman, and Heifetz and Kreisler. Friedman was in turn a student of Heifetz, so the link is a valid one.
…the program, however, is apparently one which Altschuler has been touring for several years. Falla is represented by the Siete canciones populares Españolas and the Danse Espagnol from La Vide Breve; Ravel by the Pièce en forme de Habanera and the Tzigane; and Albéniz by the Tango Op.165 No.2. Poulenc’s Violin Sonata Op.119, written in 1942-43…a predominantly Spanish program, but a passionate performance proves that it’s a terrific work which really should be heard more often. Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances…provide an energetic end to the CD.”
– Terry Robbins
The Whole Note
About Falla, Ravel, Albeniz, Poulenc, Bartok CD:
“Upon listening to the new CD release,”Emil G. Altschuler”, violinist, with Keunyoung Sun, pianist, you will embark upon a musical journey to Spain, France and Hungary. Music of Manuel de Falla, Maurice Ravel, Isaac Albeniz, Francis Poulenc, and an encore bonus, “Romanian Folk Dances” of Bela Bartok is brought to life through spirited, lyrical interpretations. Whether it is the guitar-like pizzicati of the violin AND staccato piano, beautiful “singing” of both instruments in a melded partnership, colors, rhythmic pulse with on-going momentum, special effects: ponticello/harmonics, or contrasting dynamics in De Falla, each repeated thematic statement is treated differently. Thus, the music is fresh and it creates another-worldly experience. We ARE in Spain as the flamenco dancer clicks her heels and snaps castanets with fiery insistence!
The Poulenc Violin Sonata, Op.111, a most worthy composition is too rarely performed, considering the powerful message within. Passion and expression with the understanding of portamento-style, is a must for this music. As a pupil of Erick Friedman, (progeny of Jascha Heifetz), Mr.Altschuler demonstrates that he learned well from his teacher as he incorporates use of glissandi and color in the RIGHT places for the RIGHT reasons. If only more of the wonderful young artists today would re-visit the artistry of the “golden era” of music-making, their own expressive vocabulary sadly lacking a palette of colors, would be enriched. It was a treat to experience this sensitive performance.
Both works by Ravel were imbued with a rainbow of colors, interest and beauty. In particular, “Tzigane” was dashed off with an abundance of technical flair and gutsy interpretation.
The Bartok bonus special captures the music of the people with breadth and spunk.”
Violinist and Teacher
Founder and Artistic Director
“Music Institute for the Development of Personal Style”
Co-Founder of Jascha Heifetz Society
“Warming Violin Concert
Nothing like hot-blooded “gypsy” violin music to try to warm up a too-early winter’s night!
This describes the fine recital given Monday, November 17, at the Griffin Auditorium by Boston-based violinist Emil Altschuler and his more than able accompanist, pianist Claire-Chung Lim.
The unusually cold weather, which permeated into the auditorium itself, made the effort to light the fire difficult, but the flames were blazing by the second half of the concert, especially the concluding Ravel masterpiece for violin and piano Tzigane (which translates as “Gypsy”). This piece climaxed a well-chosen program of Romantic-period selections, many pieces whose lineage indeed traces to the ancient influence of Romany (“Gypsy’) folk music upon the cultures of France (thence to Cuban Creole) and Spain, and eventually its trans-Atlantic reach to Argentina.
The first half of the program included dance- and song-based pieces by Falla, Ravel, Granados, Albeniz, and Piazzolla, the majority in arrangements or transcriptions, in several cases by legendary violinist Fritz Kreisler. The variety exhibited a welcome balance between familiar and lesser-known melodies.
After the intermission came the still meatier Violin Sonata Opus 119 by Poulenc, a selection from The Story of the Tango by Argentinian master Astor Piazzolla, the ever-popular “Meditation” from the opera Thaïs, by Jules Massenet, and the Ravel Tzigane. In response to the standing ovation at concert’s end, the performers offered a hauntingly beautiful encore, another Piazzolla composition entitled “Oblivion.”
This entire program well represented Altschuler’s dual passions: the established Romantic solo violin repertoire and the folk-music-based traditions of the composers represented in the first half of the program. His interest in folk-based violin performance now even extends into his teaching bluegrass violin in his faculty position at Northeastern University (with additional teaching at Tufts and the New England Conservatory).
The aforementioned slowness in getting the spark to catch owed mainly both to the cold and to the (it can’t be sugarcoated) poor acoustic in the Auditorium. Frequent re-tunings were necessary, and Altschuler’s Robert McDuffie-like sweetness of tone occasionally was overwhelmed by the piano’s louder projection. But high-level pro that he clearly is, Altschuler bore patiently and eventually triumphed. Much the same can be said about the Griffin Area Concert Association, which for many years has worked better within its community limitations than has virtually any other similar-sized classical-music support organization in Georgia, or even beyond. Both the GACA and the artists it attracts deserve a better acoustic, and that statement should stand as high praise of both. Added thanks for their extraordinary support of music in Griffin goes to Dr. and Mrs. Gayle Goodin for underwriting Mr. Altschuler’s recital.”
Professor of English, Emeritus
Clayton State University