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Marvelous performances of 20th century landmark repertoire for violin.

Elizabeth Chang comments that "This selection of composers derives its rationale from my own artistic heritage and the profound artistic and pedagogical influence Leon Kirchner had on me when I was an undergraduate…Kirchner, in turn was a student of two of the most influential composers of the twentieth century, Roger Sessions and Arnold Schoenberg." Ms. Chang enjoys a multi-faceted career as performer, teacher, and arts administrator. Her performing career has taken her to more than 20 countries. She is on the faculty at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Pre-College Division of the Juilliard School. She is artistic director and co-founder of the Lighthouse Chamber Players, co-founder of the Five College New Music Festival, the UMass Amherst Bach Festival and Symposium and Musique de Chambre en Val Lamartinien (Burgundy, France). A graduate of Harvard, Ms. Chang was recipient of the Presidential Scholar in the Arts award. She is joined by noted pianist Steven Beck, who shares Ms. Chang's passion for music of our time.

The cover photo of Leon Kirchner is provided courtesy of Lisa Kirchner.
Leon Kirchner, composer
Duo No. 2 for Violin and Piano
Elizabeth Chang (violin); Steven Beck (piano)

Roger Sessions, composer
Solo Sonata
Elizabeth Chang (violin)

Roger Sessions, composer
Duo for Vioin and Cello
Elizabeth Chang (violin); Alberto Parrini (cello)

Arnold Schoenberg, composer
Elizabeth Chang (violin); Steven Beck (piano)

"Elizabeth Chang’s playing is amazing; at one point one hears two violins playing two different pieces of music, of differing character, simultaneously. Even more important is her deep musicality, shared with her colleagues. They make all of this supposedly “difficult” music easy listening, maintaining both warmth and clarity throughout. There have been other recordings of all these pieces, but I doubt that any are so completely winning. If you are looking for this CD, it is called “Transformations.” Five stars: Serious 20th-century music in performances that charm and satisfy." (Fanfare)

American violinist Elizabeth Chang’s new album Transformations on Albany Records brings together works by Leon Kirchner (1919-2009), Roger Sessions (1896-1985) and Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951). As can be seen from the press release, this is about teacher-student relationships. Chang was a student of Leon Kirchner at Harvard University. Kirchner, for his part, studied with both Sessions and Schoenberg. The program begins with Kirchner’s Second Duo for Violin and Piano, a modern piece from 2002 alternating between lively and very delicately lyrical moments. Elizabeth Chang and Steven Beck play it intensely with the utmost commitment, the violinist continually delighting with ravishing cantabile. Roger Sessions’ four-movement solo sonata for violin is, according to the composer, « rhapsodic. » The first movement is of fragile lyricism, the second and the Finale are virtuosic and brilliant, while the Adagio in Elisabeth Chang’s interpretation becomes gorgeously tender, like a modern lullaby. Chang and cellist Alberto Parrini perform Robert Sessions’ Duo for Violin and Cello with real flair and commitment. Like Sessions’ Duo, Schoenberg’s Phantasy for Violin with Piano Accompaniment, Op. 47 (1949), is the composer’s last chamber work. The dodecaphonic composition is virtuosic and sometimes genuinely dance-like, while being really technically challenging in the violin part. But Elizabeth Chang masters this brilliantly and elegantly at the same time, her playing standing out pleasantly to my ears from the far more brash approach of a Gidon Kremer. And so the line of excellent interpretations runs through a program of transformations….