Mozart: Sonatas and Variations for Piano and Violin ~ Vol. 1

with Jacques Israelievitch, violin

Jacques Israelievitch, violin
Christina Petrowska Quilico, piano

The last joint collaboration by the duo of pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico and the late violinist Jacques Israelievitch was the recording of Mozart’s complete catalogue of violin and piano sonatas.

The first of six CDs is being released June 10 on the American label Fleur de Son (FDS 58034) and distributed by Naxos.  Copies will be available on iTunes (electronic) and (physical and digital), and through numerous other digital service providers and retailers.

Volume 1 comprises 71 minutes of late sonatas along with a set of variations. It features the sonatas in E flat, K. 380; B flat, K.454; and A, KV 526; and Six Variations on a French Song (“Hélas, j’ai perdu mon amant”), K. 360.

The sonata series grew out a daylong marathon of Mozart sonatas that Israelievitch and Petrowska Quilico performed in May 2014 at Toronto’s Gallery 345. The two had been performing together since 2008 when Israelievitch joined the faculty of York University, where Petrowska Quilico was a professor of piano and musicology.  He had just retired after 20 years as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s longest serving concertmaster.

As Israelievitch put it, “When Edmund Hillary was asked why he climbed Mount Everest he replied: ‘Because it’s there!’  Playing the sonatas in one day allows the listener to hear the evolution of the form as the composer goes from featuring mostly the piano to making the violin gradually the equal of the piano.” While Mozart’s early works, dating from 1764, had only a secondary role for the violin, the instrument was well established as an equal partner before the later sonatas.

The pair repeated the cycle over several concerts at York University during the winter of 2014-15, recording before each concert. It was during this time that Israelievitch was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.  Despite his severe pain, they completed the final session in May 2015, just months before Israelievitch’s death on September 5, 2015. The CD series was produced by David Jaeger, with sound recording by Simon Head.

They gave one last performance of four late Mozart sonatas in July 2015 at the Chautauqua Festival in New York State.  It would be his last public appearance.

Petrowska Quilico and Israelievitch launched their first joint CD, Fancies and Interludes, a concert of contemporary Canadian works, in June 2015 on the Centrediscs label. The CAML Review, published by the Canadian Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres, recently praised the disc for its “astounding level of virtuosity.  Both performers also deliver eloquent interpretations filled with individuality and rich expression.” The WholeNote called it “both a labour of love and musical declaration, intuited and played by two ingenious and accomplished musicians,” and the programming “exquisite, noting how “Israelievitch and Petrowska Quilico allow the impulse, the urge to soar and expand in their playing while granting the listener a breathing space.”

Petrowska Quilico recalls working with Israelievitch: “Jacques was an inspirational and motivational musician and friend.  I will always remember the fun and laughter we had rehearsing and recording. What a great way to make music!”

Jacques Israelievitch debuted on French National Radio at 11, graduated from the Paris Conservatory at 16, and was a winner at the International Paganini Competition.  Prior to his record-setting 20 years with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, he was assistant concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and concertmaster of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. As a soloist, he appeared with many of the world’s major orchestras, collaborated with Solti, Giulini, Davis, and Frühbeck de Burgos, and premiered and recorded several concertos. He performed chamber music with Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, and Yo-Yo Ma. His discography of more than 100 albums includes the first-ever complete recording of Kreutzer’s 42 Studies for Solo Violin. He was an officer of France’s Order of Arts and Letters and a member of the Order of Canada, and held a Lifetime Achievement Award for his distinguished contribution to the performing arts in Canada.

Distributed by Naxos of America

To download the official Release Sheet, click here.

Sonata in E flat Major, KV. 380
1.    I. Allegro
2.   II. Andante con moto
3.  III. Rondeau: Allegro

Sonata in B flat Major, KV. 454
4.    I. Largo: Allegro
5.   II. Andante
6.  III. Allegro

7. Six Variations on a French Song, K. 360

Sonata in A Major, KV. 526

8.    I. Molto Allegro
9.   II. Andante
10. III. Presto

total time 71:12

Their playing is red-blooded and wants nothing in enthusiasm
Jacques Israelievitch and Christina Petrowska Quilico play with a modern style without any influence from PPP. Their playing is red-blooded and wants nothing in enthusiasm. They find richer textures in the music than Ibragimova and Tiberghien and more variety too. They are especially wonderful in the two later sonatas. It is labeled “Volume 1”, and I really look forward to the series.
- MAGIL   American Record Guide September/October 2016
Chosen Disc of the Week on CBC Radio Two’s In Concert
The joy of music making is evident in every single measure
“…So full of the rhythms and colors of life, taut and firm, and always endowed with the warmth that Mozart requires. ....  Israelievitch and Petrowska Quilico obviously enjoy the wealth of melody and the increasingly rich chromatic harmonies in these three works, so reminiscent in many ways of his writing in the operas with which they were contemporary, from Abduction from the Seraglio to The Marriage of Figaro. The joy of music making is evident in every single measure. Highly recommended. (If this CD doesn’t win one of Canada’s Juno Awards next April, there’s no justice.)
– Phil’s Reviews, Audio-Video Club of Atlanta
Beautiful and virtuosic
“…Beautiful and virtuosic, dynamic on the part of Quilico and finesse from the violin sounds of Israelievitch.”
– Ed Farolan, Review Vancouver
A Wonderful Memorial Tribute to a Great and Much-Loved Violinist
When violinist Jacques Israelievitch joined the Faculty of Music at York University in 2008 he became a colleague of pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico, and it wasn’t long before they started performing as a duo. They also sight-read all of the Mozart sonatas for their own pleasure, and soon added some of the late works to their concert recitals.

This led to their performing all of the sonatas in a marathon concert of more than seven hours (with three short breaks), an experience which convinced them to try to recreate the excitement by recording the complete series. They were part of the way through the project when Israelievitch was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. Despite a break for hospital treatment he managed to find the strength to complete the project, recording the final six sonatas in less than four hours. He passed away on September 5, 2015.

Sonatas and Variations for Piano and Violin Vol.1 is the initial release in the series, issued “with a heavy heart” by Fleur de Son Classics (FDS 58034). This first volume features the Sonata No.28 in E Flat K380, the Sonata No.32 in B-Flat Major K454, the Sonata No.35 in A Major K526 and the Six Variations on a French Song K360.

These works are perfectly suited to Israelievitch’s distinctive style and sound, which was always warm, gentle and sensitive. More so than in the early juvenile sonatas written before Mozart turned 11, where the violin is little more than an accompaniment to the piano, the instruments are on equal terms here, and it’s obvious that Israelievitch and Petrowska Quilico are of one mind in their performances.

I’m not sure how many volumes there will be in this series – there are 19 mature sonatas as well as the 17 juvenile works – but if this first volume is anything to go by then it will be a series to treasure, and one that will be a wonderful memorial tribute to a great and much-loved violinist

Terry Robbins, The WholeNote
to read this article online, click here.