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Artona Composed by John Williams
Format: 2 CD Victor Romanul, violin
Total Playing Time: 14:27 (Williams) Michael Zaretsky, viola
Date: Dec 24, 2008 Recorded at Symphony Hall, Boston
Cat. No. CP31-304 Dedicated to Michael Zaretsky

Duo for Violin and Viola

Duos for Violin and Viola

CD 1 (38:06)

John Williams
Duo Concertante for Violin and Viola

1. Maestoso (4:23)
2. Cadenza–Adagio (6:06)
3. Allegro (3:58)

(World Premiere Recording)

Aaron Copland
4. Elegies for violin and viola (7:07)

Louis Spohr
Duo for violin and viola, Op. 13

5. Allegro moderato (7:21)
6. Adagio (4:16)
7. Tempo di Menuetto (4:54)

CD 2 (44:47)

Bohuslav Martinu
Three Madrigals for violin and viola

1. Poco allegro (4:17)
2. Poco andante (6:16)
3. Allegro (5:47)

Jakov Jakoulov
4. Chant IV for violin and viola (10:14)
(World Premiere Recording)

Alessandro Rolla
Duo concertant in C, Op. 15, No. 3

5. Allegro (6:33)
6. Adagio. Andantino (5:05)
7. Presto (6:31)

Recorded at Historic Symphony Hall, Boston, Mass.
Engineering, editing, and mastering: Greg Snedeker, Riverview Productions
Producer: Greg Snedeker
Design: Studio Two, Lenox, Mass.

Victor Romanul, violin

Michael Zaretsky, viola

viola_06.jpg (15157 Byte)

Liner notes: Robert Kirzinger

Notes on the notes:

"Memoirs of a Geisha" is not an Academy Award-winning score.
It was only nominated for an Academy Award.

After 1997, John Williams wrote the scores for three,
not two "Star Wars" movies.

From Williams with love
FedEx delivers a little surprise from composer to BSO violist
By Andrew L. Pincus, Special to The Eagle

Thursday, August 16, 2007

LENOX — It's not every day that FedEx comes to your door and, out of the blue, drops off a piece of music written for you by John Williams. That was the surprise that greeted Michael Zaretsky, a violist in the Boston Symphony Orchestra, last October. He received Williams' Duo Concertante for violin and viola, written for him by the Boston Pops conductor laureate and multiple Oscar- and Grammy-winning film composer.

"I was totally astonished," Zaretsky remembers. He picked up the phone and called Williams, who was then secluded in the Berkshires, working on scores.

Williams said a letter of explanation would follow. What Zaretsky describes as "a really beautiful letter" asked if he would be willing to play the 13-minute piece. Indeed Zaretsky would. He and fellow BSO member Victor Romanul will give the world premiere at Tanglewood tomorrow night as part of a prelude concert of violin-viola duos.

Williams has also written a considerable body of classical music, including works for cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Busy again this week in the Berkshires, he was not available to tell how the duo came about. So let Zaretsky tell the story:

Ten years ago, Zaretsky was scheduled to play a Tanglewood prelude, including Brahms' Piano Quintet, with pianist Yefim Bronfman and other BSO members. The night before, Zaretsky, his wife and Bronfman were dining at a Lenox restaurant and Williams happened to walk in with friends for dinner. On asking what Bronfman was performing, Williams heard about the prelude program. He decided to attend. Among the pieces he heard was Bohuslav Martinu's Three Madrigals for violin and viola, which Zaretsky played with Romanul. Williams took a liking to the piece, which he had never heard before. Seeing an opportunity, Zaretsky asked if Williams would write a piece for him and Romanul.

"His reaction was 'no, no, no, I'm so busy,' " Zaretsky recalls. But from time to time, the two men would meet in Symphony Hall during Williams' visits to conduct the Pops, and Williams would mention that he was still thinking about that piece.

"Oh, he's just being polite," Zaretsky thought.

Then came the Fed Ex man. Zaretsky and Romanul went to work, and in December they traveled to the Berkshires to try out the gift for Williams at his hideaway. They came expecting to spend 45 minutes with him. The 45 minutes stretched out to three hours as Williams made adjustments to the score.

Not just "an incredible human being," Williams is also "a musician of the highest caliber," Zaretsky says. "I told him, 'This is a real gift, not to me, of course. It's a gift to all viola and violin players.' "

Because Williams loved the Martinu piece, he modeled his piece on it, Romanul believes. "What was nice was, he mentioned that he had written the parts based upon how he saw us as players, what he appreciated about Mischa's playing and about my playing."

Zaretsky says Williams wanted the premiere at Tanglewood. Also at Williams' suggestion, it will be joined on the program by the Martinu madrigals, along with Copland's brief, unpublished "Elegies" and Mozart's well-known Duo, K. 423.

The Martinu and Copland pieces also have a Tanglewood connection, Zaretsky points out. The Czech Martinu was a composer-in-residence in 1946, and Copland was a Tanglewood fixture as a composer and teacher for a quarter-century beginning in 1940.

As for the Mozart duo, Zaretsky recalls Williams' saying, "It's always nice to be in the company of Mozart."

There are plenty of violin-viola duos by such minor composers as Pleyel, Stamitz and Spohr, Zaretsky says, but apart from the Mozart and Martinu pieces, the repertoire for the duo is thin. He expects the Williams contribution to be right up there with Mozart and Martinu.

Only one other performance is scheduled as of now. On Oct. 22, Zaretsky will play the duo at Boston University with fellow faculty member Peter Zazofsky. Zaretsky and Romanul plan to record the work for a compact disc of duos.

The second of Williams' three movements suggests his music for "Schindler's List," Zaretsky says, but actually the piece is nothing like his movie music. "It's a totally different John," says Zaretsky. "What is remarkable is how well he knows instruments."

(Thanks to www.berkshireeagle.com!)

Boston Symphony Orchestra members Victor Romanul, violin, and Michael Zaretsky, viola, have released a new two-disc CD on the Artona label, featuring the world premiere recording of John William’s Duo Concertante, which was written for and dedicated to Michael Zaretsky. The CD, recorded at the historic Symphony Hall in Boston, also includes works by Aaron Copland, Louis Spohr, Bohuslav Martinu, Jakov Jakoulov and Alessandro Rolla.

“Duos for Violin and Viola” features works from a variety of eras through the hands of some of the greatest composers, due, in part, to the challenge and limitations of writing for this particular combination of instruments. Spohr’s “Duo for Violin and Viola,” and Alessandro Rolla’s “Duo Concertant in C,” contribute some of the earliest works on the recording, while Jakov Jakoulov’s “Chant IV” and John Williams’ “Duo Concertant” are world premiere recordings and recent works, both written for Zaretsky and Romanul.

Williams’ “Duo Concertan”t was partly triggered by the composer’s attendance at a chamber concert in Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood in 1997, during which Romanul and Zaretsky performed Martinu’s “Three Madrigals” (also featured on this recording). Talking with William’s afterward, Zaretsky suggested casually that the composer write his own duo for the two players. The piece came to fruition in 2006, and was premiered on Aug. 17, 2007, in Ozawa Hall.

Jakoulov’s “Chant IV” for violin and viola premiered at Symphony Hall in May 2006. The piece is part of a series of five string duos, a cycle beginning with a piece for two double basses and ending with a piece for two violins.

Violinist Romanul has been performing professionally since he was seven. An active recitalist, teacher, and soloist, he is a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and has been concertmaster of the Ars Poetica Chamber Orchestra and associate concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony. He has given recitals throughout the country, including a concert of the ten Beethoven violin sonatas; performances of Bach’s sonatas and partitas for solo violin in one recital, a recital of the complete solo sonatas of Eugene Ysa˙e, and recitals featuring solo violin music of Paganini, Sauret, Ernst, Wienawski, and Vieuxtemps. Romanul studied with Ivan Galamian, Joseph Silverstein, and Jascha Heifetz.

Born in the former Soviet Union, violist Zaretsky began his career in Moscow and Israel before joining the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Besides being a member of the BSO, he regularly plays solo recitals and chamber music throughout the world; he has appeared with such leading artists as Yuri Bashmet, Yefim Bronfman, Emanuel Ax, and Vadim Repin. Zaretsky has made five acclaimed recordings for ARTONA: “Black Snow,” an album of Russian music; “Bach, Bach & Bach”; “Simgular Voices: Brahms, Schumann, and the Viola”; Bach’s six cello suites performed on viola; and works of Hindemith. Mr. Zaretsky’s collaboration with composer Jakov Jakoulov has resulted in many new works featuring the viola.

(Thanks to www.nashuatelegraph.com!)

© MH