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Sounds of War

Maria Milstein, Hanna Shybayeva

Poulenc, Janacek, Leos Janacek, Prokofiev


Year of release: 2015

Sonata for Violin and Piano (1942/43, rev. 1949) 19:37
1. I. Allegro con fuoco Poulenc 06:40
2. II. Intermezzo - Tres lent et calme Poulenc 06:48
3. III. Presto tragico Poulenc 06:08
Sonata for Violin and Piano JW VII/7 (1914/21) 17:56
4. I. Con moto Janacek 05:07
5. II. Ballada - Con moto Leos Janacek 05:13
6. III. Allegretto Leos Janacek 02:35
7. IV. Adagio Leos Janacek 04:59
Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano in F minor , Op. 80 29:35
8. I. Andante assai Prokofiev 07:28
9. II. Allegro brusco Prokofiev 07:01
10. III. Andante Prokofiev 07:30
11. IV. Allegrissimo Prokofiev 07:35

About this album

Sounds of WarViolinist Maria Milstein and pianist Hanna Shybayeva form a duo since 2013. The affinities they share in the approach of the repertoire as well as their common passion for chamber music resulted in many collaborations that evolved into this, their debut CD together. Born in the former Soviet Union and emigrating later to the Netherlands, both musicians share a strong link through their connection to Russian musical traditions. Inspiration for the album came from their extensive research into the repertoire for violin and piano. The three Sonatas struck both Hanna and Maria with their powerful messages that remain equally relevant today.

The works on this CD share a common feature in that they were all composed during times of war. For each of these composers, artistic creation provided an outlet for expression and communication in oppressive times. Their expressions of distress are very personal ranging from direct, descriptive depictions of the atrocities of war to nostalgic recollections and alternative realities. The Sonata by Francis Poulenc was dedicated to the memory of the Spanish poet Frederico Garcia Lorca who was executed during the Spanish Civil War. The composer’s wit and humour are overshadowed by tragedy and turmoil with the beautiful Intermezzo serving as a poignant homage to the deceased poet. Leoš Janácek’s Violin Sonata from 1914 is an expression of his personal pain and torment. The fragile nature of humanity is juxtaposed with the surrounding insanity of the times. Sergei Prokofiev’s dark and ruthless First Sonata is a masterful depiction of the horrors of war and totalitarianism.

As performers, Maria Milstein and Hanna Shybayeva found it fascinating to bring together these masterpieces of chamber music repertoire written by very different composers, each finding his own personal way to reflect the surrounding chaos.

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BBC Music Magazine (Jan. 2016)

Milstein and Shybayeva encapsulate the music's war-time provenance and propensity for pouring old musical wine into new bottles with rhythmic alacrity and glowing lyricism, often to startling effect.