A Different World. Works by Barkauskas, Balsys, Schittino, Salonen, Sher, MacMillan, Watkins & Bacewicz

A fascinating survey of modern bravura violin repertoire


Diana Galvydyte (violin) Christopher Guild (piano)


Barkauskas, Balsys, Schittino, Salonen, Sher, MacMillan, Watkins & Bacewicz

Catalogue number

Champs Hill Records CHRCD 039

For this diverse and intriguing disc, Lithuanian violinist Diana Galvydyte brings together contemporary works from the mid-20th century onwards, exploring the notion of bravura violin. Many of the pieces are from the Baltic region, and familiar names – such as Salonen and Bacewicz, as well as Brits James MacMillan and Huw Watkins – appear alongside less well-known figures.

The opening five-movement solo Partita is a case of the latter, written by Vytautas Barkauskas, a leading light in Lithuania’s avant-garde in the 1960s. It’s detailed and gritty, and shot through with hints of rumba and blues. Galvydyte tackles it with incisive energy.

Joe Schittino’s Poem ‘Eglè’, a premiere recording, stands out for its gorgeously impressionistic piano textures under the violin’s melancholy wanderings – although some intrusive breathing mars the performance here a little, the recording is otherwise appealing for the clarity and immediacy of its sound. Salonen’s Lachen verlernt is full of taut expressivity, carefully unfolded, and MacMillan’s A Different World – which provides the title of the disc – is dreamlike and beautifully paced. Watkins’s Partita shatters the mood with snarling, triple-stopped dissonance, although the violin soon takes off into more expressive explorations. It’s all fiercely virtuosic stuff – Galvydyte certainly proves her mettle on that score, with sensitive support from pianist Christopher Guild – but it’s also a disc of lesser explored treasures, with beauty radiating from the most unexpected corners.

Catherine Nelson

From the October 2014 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.

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