A special eight-page section focusing on recent recordings from the US and Canada

Chopin Ballades – No 1, Op 23; No 3, Op 47. Barcarolle, Op 60. Berceuse, Op 57. Mazurkas – No 30, Op 50 No 1; No 31, Op 50 No 2; No 32, Op 50 No 3. Nocturnes No 5 Op 15 No No Op No No 13, Op 48 No 1; No 16, Op 55 No 2. Scherzo No 4, Op 54 David Korevaar pf MSR Classics F MS16 6 ( ’ • DDD)

talks to... Stephanie Sant’Ambrogio The violinist and viola player talks about her latest recording, ‘Soaring Solo’

Given David Korevaar’s penchant for putting together interesting and cohesive concert programmes, it’s not surprising that his all-Chopin disc embraces many moods and styles. Indeed, Korevaar’s first selection, the C minor Nocturne, Op 48 No 1, runs the emotional gamut between its stark mezza voce opening and the middle section’s tumultuous octave outbursts, helped by the pianist’s full-bodied sonority and huge dynamic range. The contrapuntal textures of the E flat Nocturne, Op 55 No 2, don’t float in the Friedman/ Moravec/Rubinstein manner but are rather closer to Arrau’s combative probity.

The A flat (Third) Ballade’s filigree never sprints faster than it could be comfortably sung, and consistently holds attention, while the D flat Nocturne, Op 27 No 2, is spacious and cannily proportioned. Since Chopin’s Mazurkas lend themselves to a wide interpretative berth, the three Op 50 selections easily absorb Korevaar’s subjective breadth and harmonic pointing. By contrast, the meticulously detailed Barcarolle and Berceuse fall somewhat short of the lilt and poetic tenderness distinguishing Murray Perahia’s classic recordings. The Fourth Scherzo’s outer sections are supple and poised, yet don’t quite take rhythmic wing.

Korevaar sheds fresh and often unconventional light on the G minor (First) Ballade. The opening theme’s myriad repetitions markedly differ, yet are inevitably unified, while the pianist brings uncommon melodic clarity to the rapid fioritura and heroic virtuoso patterns. Inner voices (both real and implied) bubble up from the lefthand accompaniments, and transitions

What inspired such a varied programme? I am particularly drawn to the intimacy and purity of solo string repertoire. I also love championing music by living composers and female composers, as well as ‘forgotten’ or lesser-known works; I wanted to include as many of these gems as I could, so I chose mostly short pieces that are close to my heart.

What are the advantages, and the challenges, of playing both instruments? I picked up the viola for the irst time when I started teaching at the University of Nevada, Reno, in 2007. Since there was no viola instructor on the faculty, I accepted the challenge. The darker timbre of the instrument resonates with me, perhaps because I grew up in a family of cellists. And practising the viola bene its my violin-playing, and vice versa. The viola is far more di icult to play in tune, which might be the reason violinists have so many viola jokes!

between sections are assiduously gauged. This revelatory interpretation alone is worth the disc’s price. Jed Distler

Fairouz Zabur Dann Coakwell ten Michael Kelly bar Indianapolis Children’s Choir, Symphonic Choir and Symphony Orchestra / Eric Stark Naxos American Classics M 8 559803 (56’ • DDD • /t)

No one need question the relevance, alas, of Zabur, Mohammed Fairouz’s powerful and

Playing without accompaniment must bring its own di iculties. Composers create the effect of an accompaniment in two main ways: the use of multiple stops, and by combining bowing with simultaneous left-hand pizzicato. These two techniques are somewhat challenging to execute, but create the harmony and the fuller sound vital to solo performance.

What’s next? As Artistic Director of Cactus Pear Music Festival in San Antonio, Texas, I’ve organised a recording of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts, coupled with works by Ned Rorem and James Scott Balentine.

affecting oratorio. The subject is war, and the presence of impending death pervades the 56-minute work. Yet Zabur – Arabic for ‘psalms’ – also is a cry for peace, especially in the heartbreaking utterances of the children who are crammed into the Middle Eastern bomb shelter where the piece takes place.

Fairouz’s score, set to a libretto by Najla Said, was commissioned by the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, which gave the world premiere in April 2015 and the New York premiere at Carnegie Hall in October 2016. In its 16 movements, Zabur traces the thoughts of a young blogger who has no forum for his writing. As he sets down his impressions of war, the adults and children confined in the shelter with him offer prayers of hope.