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Max Bruch: Kol Nidrei , opus 47
Tomaso Antonion Vitali: Chaconne in G minor
Camille Saint-Saëns: Danse macabre, opus 40
Piotyr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Sérénade mélancolique, opus 26
Ernest Bloch: Baal Shem, B. 47: n° 2 “Nigun”
Ernest Chausson: Poème, opus 25
Shigeru Umebayashi: In the Mood for Love: “Yumeji’s Theme”

Virgil Boutellis-Taft (violin), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Jac van Steen (conductor)
Recording: Henry Wood Hall, London, England (July 8-10, 2019) – 63’20
Aparté AP234 (Distributed by PIAS) – Booklet in French, English and German

With great anticipation, violinist Virgil Boutellis-Taft makes his debut at the Salle Gaveau today while his second discography release, following “Entre Orient et Occident”, streams forward with “Incantation”. And while the album’s title dispenses with wide spells of charm and wisdom, M. Boutellis-Taft’s choices cleanly fall under this detail. “Incantation’s” somber drapery, sharpened by a 1742 Domenico Montagnana “ex-Régis Pasquier” Venice, brings out Virgil Boutellis-Taft’s richly firm conversations and intellectual approaches.

M. Boutellis-Taft’s strongest convictions rest inside the pages of Judaic enclaves, including those found within Max Bruch and Ernest Bloch. “Searing and crying for outreach”, Kol Nidrei’s ardent Aramic religiosity is piercing and searing, likely the album’s apex composition. With an unforgettable and repetitive line, it’s one of the most convincing samples of Virgil Boutellis-Taft’s artistry. The same can be said about the Nigun by Ernest Bloch whereupon the music is guided by a startling and ominous opening. Ensconced in soft detailing, grace notes are also well tended to. Majestic and severe in their accommodation, it’s here the violinist relishes greater dynamics that wrap around the listener in Kabbalistic occupancy. Enthralling.

Achingly beautiful swells abound as well inside Vitali’s Chaconne, holding the listener in a state of awe. The violinist shows how well-versed he is in patiently building the music into a state of anxiety and heartbreak: Full of vitality and stress, Virgil Boutellis-Taft seems to have the most unabashed freedom playing Tomaso Antonio Vitali. M. Boutellis-Taft never overstates the urgency of the text, and he comforts within a wall of cautious tentativeness.

Broadly speaking, the violinist's glances are more reserved while staying below the threshold of daring assertiveness. The Danse macabre has greater timidity, and it doesn’t completely absorb, showing more signs of a benevolent and poetic Death. It decolorizes. Conversely, Tchaikovsky’s Sérénade mélancholique is instructional and straight-laced, directly speaking to the audience.

Longest and perhaps the most climactic of compositions, Ernest Chausson’s Poème is pocketed with emotional draw, yet the visceral angst somewhat conceals itself within violin and orchestra. In what should surmount Chausson’s compositional hesitations (as expressed to Eugène-Auguste Ysaÿe) into a stupendous climax (13’34), it doesn’t elicit a rarity of insurmountable plight, thus the interpolation only mildly coalesces.

Wong Kar-wai’s 2000 romantic Hong Kong film gave the opportunity for Shigeru Umebayashi to draw forth a plaintive waltz, “Yumeji’s Theme”, to tap into the equation of formality and hidden stoicism. Set upon a pizzicato, M. Boutellis-Taft’s bow weaves an account of polite distance and yearning while the lovely legato reaches the end unresolved. Distantly tearful.

The predominance of selections poised on this Aparté release (with exception to Chausson and Umebayashi) will be performed later today in Paris. We look forward to hearing Virgil Boutellis-Taft’s extraction of these and two other compositions by Corelli and Massenet.

Christie Grimstad




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