237

Kim Kashkashian / Robert Levin: Asturiana: Songs from Spain and Argentina

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Kim Kashkashian / Robert Levin: Asturiana: Songs from Spain and Argentina It's curious that, of the instruments in the classical string quartet, the viola is the least often heard as a leading voice. Richer and deeper-toned than the violin, but higher in range than the cello, it's the ideal instrument to interpret material written for voice. Violist Kim Kashkashian has, since the mid-1980s, been a fixture on ECM's New Series which, parallel to its regular series, focuses on music that is composed rather than improvised. Her relationship with pianist Robert Levin goes back at least as far, and the two have built a small but significant discography of duet recordings, interpreting music ranging from Brahms and Liszt to the more contemporary Hindemith, Shostakovich and Carter.



The duo brings an uncanny sense of nuance and empathy to every release, but with Asturiana, an album of Spanish and Argentinean songs, Kashkashian and Levin have not only made one of their best duo recordings, they've made one of their most compellingly human. While the translated lyrics to this series of twenty-six miniatures are provided in the liner notes, in many ways they're an unnecessary distraction, as Kashkashian and Levin capture the evocative emotional breadth of music by Manuel de Falla (1876-1946), Enrique Granados (1867-1916), Carlos Guastavino (1912-2000), Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983), Xavier Montsalvatge (1912-2002) and Carlos López Buchardo (1881-1948).



The music ranges from the spare melancholy of de Falla's title track to Granados' impassioned, but no less haunting "El mirar de la Maja (The Gaze of the Maja). Kashkashian's viola is a plaintive voice to Levin's sparse but increasingly dramatic support on Ginastera's "Triste (Sadness). Montsalvatge's "Canción de cuna para dormer a un negrito (Lullaby for a Black Baby) feels soothing, but possesses a hint of unsettled discord, whereas de Falla's "Nana (Lullaby) may be gentle in demeanor, but is unexpectedly sad in resonance. De Falla's "Polo is more urgent, more dramatic; while Buchardo's "Prendiditos de la mano (Hand in Hand) is more buoyant and joyful.



Adapting these songs for viola and piano requires more than merely finding the right way to put the notes on the page and play them; it requires the simpatico to deal with the subtlest complexities of emotion inherent in the human voice, which are difficult to emulate. Kashkashian's melodies leap off the page, while Levin's role is a different one; a more conventional supporting role perhaps, but no less inspired, telepathically moving with and motivating Kashkashian throughout.



Removed, as it is, from more conventional classical repertoire, Asturiana represents a shift in ECM's unfettered New Series. Like Trio Mediaeval's Folk Songs (ECM, 2007), it demonstrates that it's possible to adapt music from farther afield to a context more commonly associated with classical music. Two versions of the title song and "Triste make clear that the arrangements may be defined, but the elusive nature of interpretation brings new perspective to every performance.


Track Listing: Asturiana; El mirar de la Maja; El Majo olvidado; (A Emilio de Gogorza); Le Maja dolorosa; El Majo discreto; La rosa y el sauce; Triste; Canción de cuna para dormer a un negrito (A Mercedes Plantado); Chévere (A Santiago Kastner); Cuba dentro de un piano (A Concepción Badia de Agusti); Punto de habanera (A Lola Rodriguez de Aragón); Siete canciones populares españolas (1914-1915) (A Madame Ida Godebska: El paño moruno, Seguidilla murciana, Asturiana, Jota, Nana, Canción, Polo; Triste, Se equivocó la paloma (A Maria de Pini de Chrestia); Abismo de sed; Pampamapa; Bonita rama de sauce; La rosa y el sauce; Prendiditos de la mano (A Esther Llavallol de Roca); Oye mi llanto (A Miguel Mastrogianni).

Personnel: Kim Kashkashian: viola; Robert Levin: piano.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Classical


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Untitled" CD/LP/Track Review Untitled
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 13, 2016
Read "The Last Remaining Payphone in L.A." CD/LP/Track Review The Last Remaining Payphone in L.A.
by Paul Naser
Published: October 18, 2016
Read "Disappearing Day" CD/LP/Track Review Disappearing Day
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 21, 2016
Read "The Harry Warren Song Book" CD/LP/Track Review The Harry Warren Song Book
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 31, 2017
Read "Christmastime in New Orleans" CD/LP/Track Review Christmastime in New Orleans
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 11, 2016
Read "Message From Saturn" CD/LP/Track Review Message From Saturn
by James Nadal
Published: November 12, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!