CD Review Karol Szymanowski: Music for Violin and Piano with Miriam Kramer, violin, and Nicholas Durcan, piano
Review by James Leonard
Who is Karol Szymanowski? Is he the composer of the wildly romantic but still tonal Violin Sonata? Is he the composer of the lyrically impressionistic but no longer quite tonal Mythes? Is he the composer of the archly modernist and weirdly neo-tonal Berceuse d'Aïtacho Enia? In this superlative 2005 disc by violinist Miriam Kramer and pianist Nicholas Durcan, Szymanowski is all these composers and more, and best of all, he's always himself and always convincing. Kramer has a big, passionate tone when it's wanted; a sweet, tender tone when it's needed; and a superb technique all the time. She's amazingly ardent in the Sonata, deeply expressive in the Romance, radiantly colorful in the Mythes, austerely luminous in the Berceuse, palpably sensual in the Notturno and Tarantella, and supremely moving in the concluding transcription of the "Chant de Roxane" from the opera King Roger. Pianist Durcan is as much a partner as an accompanist and he supports Kramer with sympathy and affection. Recorded in Potton Hall in Westleton in Suffolk and produced and engineered by Michael Ponder, this disc will amaze those who know Szymanowski's music -- and confound those who only think they know Szymanowski's music.
CD Review Ernest Bloch Violin Sonatas Nos 1 & 2 Suite Hebraique with Miriam Kramer, violin, and Simon Over, piano
American Record Guide
Kramer and Over have the same kind of dedication and reverence for Bloch that Heifetz and his partners had. Their interpretations are completely different, though just as personal and just as sincere. She (Kramer) has a fabulous sound in every register, plays beautifully in tune, and has an extraordinary wide range of colors. Over's piano colors are as wide-ranging as Kramer's and he and Kramer play together beautifully. But what I mainly hear is Bloch at his best.
Moving Evening Infused with a Natural Musical Grace
Miriam Kramer and the pianist David Silkoff at the Chateau de
Translation by V. Williamson
Saturday, April 20, 2002
Hilda van Heel
There are concerts
which leave a delicious impression, evenings infused with a
natural musical grace when ease of playing and melody merge
into sincere interpretation.
The recital given
by Miriam Kramer and David Silkoff in the hall of the 'Chevaliers
de Bourglinster' possessed these lyric and subtle qualities,
that spirit, measured or passionate in turn, which inspires
unforgettable dreams. The violinist had the rare gift of letting
the music speak for itself-allowing herself the time to enter
into the atmosphere, never forcing, her playing became increasingly
expansive; her lightness developed into a most marvelous lyricism.
It is true that such a relaxed attitude is most often found
in Anglo-Saxon artists. This very natural approach, where the
musician does not want to 'prove' anything and does not want
to impose him/herself from the start, favors the fullness of
sound and freshness of interpretation. The pianist also showed
a subtle musicality and a playing full of finesse. The two artists
live in England, where they have studied, which brings us the
honor of welcoming the Great Britain Ambassador, Mr. Gordon
Wetherell to this very fine concert.
A slight shadow
was cast over the scene: the piano dominated at some points
in the first part of the programme; therefore one could wonder
why it had been left fully open. The harmony of the ensemble
became perfect after the interval without any change to the
The first part of
the programme, a 'Scherzo' by a young Brahms, is part of a sonata
composed by 3 different composers. Albert Dietrich had composed
the allegro, Robert Schumann the intermezzo and the finale.
This 'Scherzo' in C minor by Brahms could be considered as an
introduction to the recital. From the beginning one admired
the warm impetuosity and the brilliant sound of the young violinist,
her fine and spontaneous sensitivity. The Sonatine in D minor
no. 1 op 137 by Franz Schubert is an equally playful piece recalling
the charm of Mozart sonatas. By the clarity of her fluid playing,
the joyous vivacity of rhythm, the violinist was able to draw
us into her joyful musical vision. After the radiant dream of
the andante, she gave us a scherzo as sparkling as champagne.
The ensemble with the pianist was excellent; David Silkoff responded
in a melodious and lyrical manner to the soaring flights of
A very different
atmosphere was created by the sonata in C minor op 30 no.2 by
Beethoven. The two soloists gave an inspired and impetuous interpretation
of this sonata which accords equal importance to both instruments.
Tension and energy alternated with moments of great delicacy.
The allegro con brio developed in an audacious/daring manner;
pianist and violinist expressed themselves with passion. The
interpretation did not lack originality; it expressed much more
of a desire for victory, a luminous ascent, than the heroic
engagement one is used to associate with this Beethoven sonata;
moreover, any pathos was absent from the marvelously pure and
musical playing of the two artists. The adagio cantabile, with
great melodic flexibility, opened with plaintive nostalgia,
which the piano, then the violin played in beautiful open phrases.
Revealing the musical thought with playing inspired with a lively
and spontaneous imagination, the artists followed the nuances
of sensitivity with fresh intuition.
With its incisive
and passionate rhythms, its brief passages and sforzatos full
of temperament, the scherzo was delivered with virtuosity, while
the dynamic allegro dazzled with its power.
However, it was
after the interval that the two artists attained the depth of
expression. The sonata for piano and violin by Cesar Franck,
full of freedom and poetry, with its melodious motifs which
flow from one movement to another, suited perfectly the subtle
lyricism of the artists. The violinist knew how to find the
lightest of notes to express the long, dreamlike and tender
melody which opens the first movement; the pianist's playing
also evoked the vast horizons of the soul. This work of great
intensity, full of emotion, submerges the listener; the repetition
of the cyclic musical refrain invites meditation-- dream and
fervor, yearning, aspiration and mystery combine in a continuous
evolution. The passionate second allegro, played with impetuosity,
developed in a vibrant and lyric romanticism. Miriam Kramer
captivated the public with her inspired and tumultuous playing;
one admired her agility, her flashes, her sublime high notes.
The poetry of the recitativo fantasia with its so soft final
notes, then the allegro mosso and its harmonious canon between
piano and violin plunged us into the most beautiful dream, the
one in which melody lights up the world.
of the artists' talent showed itself in the interpretation of
the 'Three Preludes' by Gershwin and Heifetz. Combining the
elements of jazz and the blues, the nostalgic rhythms and accents,
the sensuality of the insinuating portamenti and dynamism, they
were enthusiastic and spontaneous. With the same spirit, they
played us a brilliant Polonaise by Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1880)
ending the evening with a fireworks display of virtuosity. The
public, charmed and captivated, demanded several encores, which
were generously granted.
steals the show
a clutch of high-profile London concerts in December, a recital
by young American violinist Miriam Kramer was by far the most
persuasive, discovered Catherine Nelson.
Strad, March 2000
finest of December's concerts was to be found in that haven
for chamber music the Wigmore Hall, where young American violinist
Miriam Kramer gave a recital of startling originality, depth
and proficiency (21 December), adeptly partnered by pianist
Simon Over. The crisp edges and freeflowing yet clean-cut
phrases of Mozort's Sonata in C major K296 promised much.
Kramer followed it with an unusual and witty little piece:
Josef Achron's Premiere suite in Ancient Style, written in
1906. She dashed through the Baroque-like arpeggios of the
opening Prelude, the spectacular bow-work of the Fughetta
and the tripping finale with grace and aplomb.
After this light
relief, the intensity and rich allure of Kramer's performance
of Brahms's D minor Sonata was nothing short of spellbinding.
Her delicately etched tonal shading in the Allegro was full
of charm, and in the long-breathed Adagio, her ease of modifying
vibrato size to match bow speed gave her reading a quality
of uncommon sensitivity, to which Over responded with delicacy
The second half
brought a clutch of rarities. Bloch's Sonata no.2 'Poeme Mystique'
is often overlooked in favour of his Baal Shem: Kramer
and Over gave its exotic and vividly passionate melodies the
deeply felt readings they deserve. Heifetz's fiendishly difficult
arrangements of Gershwin's Three Preludes were enticing for
Kramer's relaxed command of their voluptuous harmonies and
lilting rhythms, although the extreme complexity of the First
Prelude made it sound rather frantic. Szymonowski's Notturno
e Tarantella was full of rapturous intrigue, from the mysterious
fifths of the opening to the violent panache of the Tarantella.
Kramer's gift for lyricism was underlined by the potent simplicity
of her encore, an uplifting reading of Kreisler's Melody,
an arrangement of Gluck's Dance of the Blessed Spirits from
Orfeo ed Euridice. Although not the most high profile
of December's concerts by any means, Kramer's was certainly
the most persuasive.
Out Reviews Miriam
Kramer at Wigmore Hall
London, 22 December, 1999
In the age of
electronic information, a debut recital at the Wigmore Hall
means rather less than it once did. Still, the emergent American
violinist Miriam Kramer attracted quite a large crowd last
night and, for all I know, the back row was full of record
debutante played a traditional programme: serious first half
including a premiere, a light second half, then a sweetmeat
encore. Mozart's Violin Sonata in C K296 which opened, bowled
along eagerly with springy trills and a lyrical slow movement.
Brahms's Violin Sonata in F OplO8 was sombre but buoyant.
Kramer's smooth, weightless, firm tone avoided the stodginess
to which Brahms is prone. The panting third movement had the
barely suppressed excitement of a child awaiting Christmas.
The premiere was
the Suite in Ancient Style composed by the l0-year-old Lithuanian-American
prodigy Joseph Achron (1896-1943). It is a charming piece
of pastiche baroque which Kramer played from memory. The second
movement fugue was an exquisite balance between the violinist
and pianist, Simon Over.
In the second
half, Bloch's Poeme Mystique brought out the aromatic in Kramer's
The Steinway purred.
Her account of Gershwin's Three Preludes (arranged Heifetz)
might have been more smokily jazzy, but the fiery finale of
Szymanowski's Notturno e Tarantella was clearly worth the
of Gluck's beautiful Dance of the Blessed Spirits sent the
record producers home happy. I left impressed.
Violinist Is Enhanced by a Violin with a History
New York Times,
December 5, 2000
James R. Oestreich
Kramer, a gifted young violinist born in Meriden, Conn., and
now living in London, gave some sort of debut on Saturday
evening at Alice Tully Hall. A United States debut, the advance
publicity said, but the program called the recital, coming
at the end of an American tour, merely a Lincoln Center debut.
Whatever, it was
auspicious, for Ms. Kramer, with Simon Over as the deft pianist,
proved a soulful and virtuosic performer. And the program,
ranging from a Bach sonata to a premiere, "Dreams" by Deborah
Netanel, served well to show the breadth of Ms. Kramer's affinities.
also called the recital a "special tribute" to Alma Rose,
the violinist who led a women's orchestra at Auschwitz, helping
save the lives of fellow inmates, though she died there herself.
Ms. Kramer, it seems, was playing the "Alma Guadagnini" violin
from 1757, on loan. The program made nothing of any of this;
perhaps just as well, given what the hapless notes made of
the music. ("All of its movements have fugal components,"
an unidentified annotator wrote of the Bach; all, that is,
except three of the four.)
Rose left the
Guadagnini behind when she fled the Nazi-occupied Netherlands
in 1942. Felix Eyle, who had studied with her father, Arnold
Rose, a concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic from 1881
to 1938, acquired the instrument in 1947, just before becoming
a concertmaster at the Metropolitan Opera, where he played
it until he retired in 1970.
"The sound is
so heavenly, so gorgeous and powerful, that it goes through
anything," Eyle once said of the violin. And there was indeed
a bold strength to Ms. Kramer's sound, allowing it to stand
up to Mr. Over's full-throated playing in the Franck Sonata
and in Brahm's Scherzo for the "F-A-E" Sonata.
But whatever the
violin, credit must also go to Ms. Kramer, whose playing bore
out a description by Ms. Netanel, evidently a longtime acquaintance,
in her program note: "I envisioned a musical expression that
would feature both her rich velvety sound in the lower registers
and her uniquely facile shimmering quality in the higher registers."
work, alternately plaintive, lyrical and perky, affords an
apt vehicle for those qualities though the piano writing tends
to fall into repetitive noodling.
In Ravel's "Tzigane,"
Ms. Kramer showed considerable flair and temperament; in Bloch's
"Baal Shem," a fine sensitivity and warmth. Mr. Over's playing
matched hers at every turn.
Miriam Kramer Recital at Malvern Priory 21 October 2008
Unaccompanied violin solos were performed by Miriam Kramer, a stunning virtuoso violinist. Sonata by Ysaye demanded extremes of technical expertise as it progressed from brilliance to plaintive muted beauty and on to extrovert bravura, all accomplished superbly.
Prokofiev's Violin Sonata was a discourse of immense beauty. The tones of Kramer's wonderful instrument combined with her assured and sensitive perception of the music produced a memorable manifestation of this exposed and exacting music.
Review Hebrew Melody with
Miriam Kramer, violin, and Simon Over, piano
have never heard Miriam Kramer play Bach, Paganini, Mozart,
or Bartok, but in the CD of Hasidic-oriented pieces, lasting
78 minutes, she reveals herself as a violinist of superior
natural talent. She succeeds in getting beneath the skin of
her music and is an exceptionally sensitive interpreter and
a phrase-maker of uncommon expressivity. As to be expected,
much of the 19 pieces are heavily ladened with sentiment which
Kramer sagely exploits, while managing to avoid exaggeration
or mawkishness. Her vibrato is multi-faceted and flows uninhibitedly.
Among the short
works the joyous Bloch Simchas Torah from the Baal
Shem Suite is particularly impressive Other outstanding
efforts are the complete Bruch transcription of Kol Nidrei,
Achron's dazzling Hebrew Dance and Ravel's moving Kaddish.
Many of the brief odes are little known but deserve mention
such as The Chassid and Prayer by Julius Chajes.
mode are Four Pieces by Mark Lavry, while in opposite character
is the traditional Eli-Eli, once a favourite of both
Elman and Seidel (who both recorded it). Off the beaten path
is an unedited arrangement of Eleazer's Song from Fromental
Halevy's La Juive, an aria better suited to the voice
than the violin.
This CD is notably
enhanced by the polished, idiomatic piano accompaniments of
Simon Over. In all, this release can be unreservedly recommended.
Bloch Violin Sonatas Nos 1 & 2 Suite Hebraique
with Miriam Kramer, violin, and Simon Over, piano
American Record Guide
and Over have the same kind of dedication and reverence
for Bloch that Heifetz and his partners had. Their interpretations
are completely different, though just as personal and just
as sincere. She (Kramer) has a fabulous sound in every register,
plays beautifully in tune, and has an extraordinary wide
range of colors. Over's piano colors are as wide-ranging
as Kramer's and he and Kramer play together beautifully.
But what I mainly hear is Bloch at his best.
Achron Violin Collections
with Miriam Kramer, violin, and Simon Over, piano
American Record Guide
playing is fantastic. Miriam Kramer and Simon Over play
wonderfully together - so wonderfully that in listening
I cannot separate the "dancer from the dance." They are
generous and open in sharing this rare and extremely special
music with us, and especially kind in letting the wonderful
inner harmonies come out in the piano part of the Hebrew