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Charles Ives: Sonata N° 2 for Violin and Piano
William Bolcom: Sonata N° 2 for Violin and Piano
John Corigliano: Sonata for Violin and Piano

Ching-Yi Lin (violin), Zachary Lopes (piano)
Recording: Van Meter Auditorium, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky (May 2016) – 54’07
MSR Classics MS 1553 – Booklet in English

Combining piano with violin sets itself up for endless equations destined for answers with passages of clarity and chemistry. The notion holds true when hearing this Ching-Yi Lin/Zachary Lopes pairing which substantively congeals through ranges of tonal and atonal Americana. Open the CD and we find two Western Kentucky University faculty members doing what’s most critical: the ability to balance and play off each other to give compositions dimension and insight.

A variety of flavors fills this disc, beginning with Ives’ astringent, dysfunctional sounds. Ching-Yi Lin and Zachary Lopes have an innate connection by reading one another without giving it second thought: abruptly pulling back the tempo then wildly moving forward in full throttle. There’s simply no hesitation. Just as Ives lived a rather isolated life, so, too, was his music. Removed from “mainstream”, the music’s independence, however, might explain a certain uneventful reading.

In contrast, when we turn the page to the Sonata N° 2 for Violin and Piano by William Bolcom, one ascertains a drive and passion through strings and keyboard. This catchy, complex, and oft-strident four movement piece is tendered beautifully. Ching-Yi Lin’s lines seem to vibrate more beautifully and possess a clearer line of vibrato. Textures abound Bolcom’s music, and Zachary Lopes elicits sparkling tinkles with twinkling finery. There’s a natural gait and groove, and it shines brightly.

Similar to Bolcom’s music, we find a relaxed, “at ease” mobility when arriving at John Corigliano. The maximum comfort level is achieved in this piece. We hear a shifting between popular and classical music, ablaze with fury and feistiness. Ching-Yi Lin’s levels of stringed expressions make a very indelible mark, particularly when encountering the “Lento.” The conclusive “Allegro” has demonstrative punctuality and energy...in short, “saving the best for last.” Excellent.

To fully appreciate this patchwork offering will require a couple of return visits to best appreciate all the quirkiness. Performances by Ching-Yi Lin and Zachary Lopes get better and better while channeling through the album in numerical sequence. Deserved exploration.

Christie Grimstad




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