Violinistic byways brought to life with élan in this lockdown project

Itamar Zorman: Violin Odyssey

The Strad Issue: August 2022

Description: Violinistic byways brought to life with élan in this lockdown project

Musicians: Itamar Zorman (violin) Ieva Jokubaviciute, Kwan Yi (piano) Julia Thompson (tambourine)

Catalogue number: FIRST HAND RECORDS FHR 119 


Winner of the 2011 International Tchaikovsky Competition, Israeli-born violinist Itamar Zorman presented an online concert series during the pandemic, Hidden Gems, exploring lesser-known repertoire from around the world. Violin Odyssey is a selection of ten tracks from that series, representing composers from Sudan to Mexico and New Zealand. 

One of the three focal points is the set of eight movements adapted for violin and piano by Heifetz from the Children’s Suite for solo piano by Russian-born US émigré composer Joseph Achron. Zorman captures a folk flavour and simple innocence redolent of Bartók’s Six Romanian Dances, not least in the spirited ‘Jumping with tongue out’, the delicate warbling and trilling of ‘Birdies’ and the mock-pompous Stravinskyan ‘March of the Toys’ with its heavy drone. Erwin Schulhoff’s Second Violin Sonata is another of the focal pieces, Zorman highlighting its darker, slightly more craggy expression. There’s rich expression in Dora Pejačević’s Slavic Sonata op.43, but here the violin is sometimes unable to compete fully with the piano, which is forwardly balanced within the recording.

The disc also features pieces by Bacewicz, Revueltas, Gao Ping, Ali Osman and Itamar’s father, Moshe, as well as William Grant Still’s achingly nostalgic Summerland and Gareth Farr’s technically challenging but musically rewarding Wakatipu.