Sounds of War


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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.


Sonata for Violin and Piano (1942/43, rev. 1949)- I. Allegro con fuoco
Sonata for Violin and Piano (1942/43, rev. 1949)- II. Intermezzo- Tres lent et calme
Sonata for Violin and Piano (1942/43, rev. 1949)- III. Presto tragico
Sonata for Violin and Piano JW VII/7 (1914/21)- I. Con moto
Sonata for Violin and Piano JW VII/7 (1914/21)- II. Ballada- Con moto
Sonata for Violin and Piano JW VII/7 (1914/21)- III. Allegretto
Sonata for Violin and Piano JW VII/7 (1914/21)- IV. Adagio
Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano in F minor , Op. 80- I. Andante assai
Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano in F minor , Op. 80- II. Allegro brusco
Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano in F minor , Op. 80- III. Andante
Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano in F minor , Op. 80- IV. Allegrissimo

Additional information


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Mastering Equipment

KEF Reference series 107

Recording Software



For this album we chose to record in Binaural as well. This is a perfect solution for headphone users. The recordings are made with the dummy head of Neuman, the KU-100. On a headphone this gives a surprisingly realistic image and it gives you the feeling of being at the session. This idea to develop an extra Binaural catalogue in DSD is initiated and supported by Rivasono in The Netherlands.

Digital Converters

DCS 904 AD/954 DA


Tom Peeters

Mixing Board

Rens Heijnis custom made


Bruel & Kjaer 4003, modified by Rens Heijnis,

Mastering Engineer

Tom Peeters

Recording Engineer

Tom Peeters

Recording location

Jurriaanse Zaal, De Doelen, Rotterdam Holland

Recording Type & Bit Rate



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Press reviews

BBC Music Magazine 6.25 out of 5

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.


No 1 in the most beautiful classical music of 2015 :
Maria Milstein and Hanna Shybayeva play on their truly stunning debut CD violin sonatas by Poulenc, Janacek and Prokofiev, and the result is a beauty that hurts. All three pieces were written in a time of war, what the emotional charge is greatly increased. Milstein and Shybayeva play from the depths of the soul.

NRC Zomergids

One of the best classical albums of 2015 until summer: Sounds of War
Normally you would choose for a 30 years young musician words as “great debut”, but for Milstein this is totally inapplicable. Her mature tone shines, her technique stuns but it is especially the soulful glow of her playing, great also accompanied by pianist Hanna Shybayeva, which inevitably drags.

Normaal zou je bij een musicus van 30 dan welwillende woorden als “geweldig debuut” kiezen, maar op Milstein is dat totaal niet van toepassing. Haar rijpe toon glanst, haar techniek verbluft maar het is vooral de zielvolle gloed van haar spel, geweldig begeleid ook door pianiste Hanna Shybayeva, die onherroepelijk meesleept.

Luister 5 out of 5

Milstein zet al direct in het eerste deel grootse accenten, op een manier die mij zeer bevalt. Ze bereikt hiermee het hoogst bereikbare dramatische effect. Milstein en Shybayeva ontmoeten vor Janáceks vioolsonate wel pittige concurrentie in Kremer en Argerich op DG. Maar voor Prokofievs sonate zijn ze in een aantal aspeten te prefereren. De opname is uitstekend, waarbij de goede balans tussen viool en piano positief opvalt.


Linking these three violin sonatas under the title ‘Sounds of War’ produces a powerful recital. All three make considerable emotional as well as technical demands, and Milstein an Shybayeva have clearly studied them in depth.
These are thoughtful, powerful interpretations.

Trouw 5 out of 5

Ongelooflijk dat de musiciennes, beiden geboren in de Sovjet-Unie, pas een paar jaar samenspelen: ze vormen een briljant duo, ieder met een heel eigen geluid, en angstaanjagend direct in hun boodschap. Fluisterend, zoetjes strijkend en ook scheurend over de snaren, zo gaat het er bij Milstein aan toe. Shybayeva haakt aan, spreidt een pianistisch bedje voor de viool en geeft ad rem weerwerk. Iedere noot is raak op dit schijfje.

NRC Handelsblad 5 out of 5

The rich mastery of Milstein is stunned.
A crisp sparkle in her voice grabs you immediately. In intense musical dialogue with pianist Hanna Shybayeva she takes plenty of risks and leaves jagged edges from mastery to add great depth to the emotionality.

Südwest Presse

Es ist nicht nur spannend, sondern geradezu aufregend, den beiden ebenso messerscharf wie sensitiv agierenden Interpretinnen auf ihrer akustischen Tour de Force zu folgen. Ja, in dieser Zusammenstellung öffnen die Werke ganz neue Klangräume.

De Telegraaf 5 out of 5

Van katachtige souplesse tot zangerige lyriek: Milstein en Shybayeva beheersen het tot in de finesses. Ook hun gevoel voor stilte en geheimenis is rijk ontwikkeld.

De Volkskrant 5 out of 5

Al bij de eerste tonen van Poulencs Vioolsonate hoor je dat hier een volbloed muzikante aan het werk is…….Hoewel dit allemaal bepaald geen vrolijke muziek is, is het samenspel van de twee toch bijzonder opwekkend.

Parool 5 out of 5

Het resultaat van hun schitterende debuutCD is van een schoonheid die pijn doet.
Hun muzikaliteit is indrukwekkend, het samenspel symbiotisch en de zeggingskracht buitengewoon intens. Ze vloeren de luisteraar in Poulencs langzame deel en opstaan lukt een cd lang niet.


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