Entertainment :: Music

An American In Paris

by Steven Bergman
Contributor
Friday Aug 16, 2013
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The up-and-coming violinist, Tamsin Waley-Cohen, has released her debut recording on Champs Hill Records. Titled, "An American in Paris," from the George Gershwin work of the same name, Waley-Cohen shows tremendously high promise on a variety of selections that explore pieces from four composers who effectively represent the cross-cultural musical worlds of the French and the Americans in the first half of the 20th century.

A regular participant at the International Musicians’ Seminar at Prussia Cove since the age of 16, Waley-Cohen is currently associate artist with Orchestra of the Swan, and the Artistic Director of the Honeymead Ensemble, in residence at London’s Tricycle Theatre.

Armed with a 1721 Stradivarius, Waley-Cohen attacks the opening movement of Francis Poulenc’s "Sonate Pour Violon et Piano," instantly drawing attention to her stunning technique, ably accompanied by Huw Watkins on the piano. Poulenc’s fellow Frenchman, Maurice Ravel, is similarly represented here with his "Sonate No.2 Pour Violon et Piano in G," but the distribution between the two musicians is more equal, with Watkins allowed to display the challenging skill required by the Ravel that has prompted the demand for his services across the United Kingdom. Between the two compositions, the duo passionately delivers Charles Ives’ "Decoration Day," a tribute by the composer to his father, a Civil War veteran.

As the title of the disc would suggest, the music of Gershwin is figured prominently by Waley-Cohen, as she shows her talent first on the classic "An American in Paris," and subsequently performs five selections from Gershwin’s opera, "Porgy and Bess." Both of these works, originally scored for orchestra, were transcribed by the world-renowned Jascha Heifetz for violin and piano, and the versions are performed respectfully, yet safe, by Waley-Cohen and Watkins.

Both musicians are highly in demand across the ocean, but this release should increase their notoriety here in the states.

"An American in Paris"
Tamsin Waley-Cohen, violin / Huw Watkins, piano
CD and digital formats
Champs Hill Records

Steven Bergman is a Composer / Playwright / Performing Arts Educator based outside of Boston, MA.

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