Patricia Kopatchinskaja switches with ease between classical violin and Eastern European fiddle styles; she’s joined by her mother Emilia (also on violin) and her father Viktor on cimbalom (a hammered dulcimer-like instrument popular in Romania and Hungary). They play a fascinating mix of pieces: Romanian folk music, Dinicu’s Hora Staccato, Enesco’s Violin Sonata No. 3, duos for violin and cimbalom by Kurtag and Ligeti, Ravel’s Tzigane, and a stunning avant-garde fantasy, Crin, by Jorge Sanchez-Chiong, where the violinist doubles the crazy lines with strange vocalizations, no mean feat.
Romanian folk songs often have a very jazzy feel, and scales inflected by “blue notes,” though by coincidence only. I’ve heard a few of these tunes on other recordings, and our musicians do a bang-up job on them—Ciocarlia, which opens the program, is raucous and more experimental than I’ve heard it played before, with cadenzas and bird- call imitations. Patricia’s intonation is exact, and she handles Enesco’s beastly, improvisatory sonata with ease. Her playing is at its most colorful in Tzigane, and the arrangement for violin and cimbalom brings out the gypsy feel. Sound is clear and detailed.