By John J. Puccio
Arcangelo Corelli: La Folia
J.S. Bach: Air on G
Niccolo Paganini: Cantabile
Manuel Ponce: Estrellita “Little Star”
Heitor Villa-Lobos: Aria from Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5
Duke Ellington: “In My Solitude”
Astor Piazzolla: “Bordel” 1900, “Cafe” 1930, “Night-club” 1960, “Concert d’aujourd’hui”
Hugo Peretti: “Can’t Help Falling Love”
Leo Brouwer: Laude al Arbol Gigante
Morten Lauridsen: “Dirait-On” and “Sure on This Shining Night”
Ms. Meyers describes her motivation for the album coming from a conversation she had with composer Morten Lauridsen, whom she asked if he had written any duos that included the violin. He said he had written a tune describing a man going on a walk and thinking back over his life. She then says, “That inspired this collection of pieces that metaphorically begins in the morning and explores the vast musical history through Baroque, Romantic, Popular, and current genres. The common themes throughout the music reflect on one’s relationship with nature, love, and poetry. And how in dark and challenging times, kindness profoundly affects our souls and opens infinite possibilities when living our lives.”
The familiar “Air” from Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 never sounded more beautiful, taken neither too fast nor too slow. As with most of the selections on the album, Ms. Meyers makes the music sing. It’s quite lovely, especially when she follows it up with Paganini’s equally lyrical Contabile. Jason Vieaux’s gently sympathetic guitar accompaniment adds to the sweetness of the affair.
We reach the twentieth century with the music of Gerald Ponce, his quiet Estrellita “Little Star” leading the way. It’s a romantic song reflecting the sorrow, pain, and hope of love. Ms. Meyers follows that with an ode to the moon by Villa-Lobos, all shadowy twilight and, again, her violin voices the notes as a singer might, with tenderness and understanding. The music is poignant and evocative; the playing is exquisite. Put another way, the album’s sixty-seven minutes seemed far shorter and for me could have gone on forever.
And so it goes. If you love the sound of the violin in the hands of expert technician and artisan of her trade, you can’t do much better than Anne Akiko Meyers. As I said in the beginning, her artistry is always skilled, delicate, intricate, and touching. She makes every note mean something as few musicians can. In the present album, we hear her at her best and most eloquent.
Producers David Frost and Anne Akiko Meyers and engineers Silas Brown and Sergey Parfenov recorded the music at Zipper Hall at the Colburn School in November 2021. The violin tone is luscious, clean, clear, never edgy or bright, and the guitar and piano accompaniments are moderately recessed to give proper dominance to the violin.