February 2020

The violin is undeniably a musical instrument favored by many music enthusiasts. Like an actor it can assume many different characters. It can cry, laugh, groan, cackle, dance, sing, be downright folky or highly lyrical. But in order to do all this it needs the assistance of a great musician. I’ve heard too many recordings of violinists who produce a sweet and silvery tone but nothing else, regardless of the type or style of music they’re playing. The pieces gathered together on this new Aparté recording require the multi-faceted expressive temperament and technical skills of a true musician in order to be effective. Young French violinist Virgil Boutellis-Taft, whose been described by critics as an “outstanding violinist” is such a musician. With a harsh cackle he brings out the sardonic humour and impish wit of the Danse macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns extremely well. He pushes the intense passion at the end of Tomaso Antonio Vitali’s Chaconne in G minor to its limits. He seamlessly alters the tone and color of his instrument to expose the deep melancholy within the Sérénade mélancolique by Tchaikovsky, a piece so aptly titled. The fervent stoicism inherent to Max Bruch’s Kol Nidrei is very well captured in Boutellis-Taft’s own arrangement for violin of a work originally scored for cello and orchestra. And in so far as technical skills are concerned, you need only listen to the very soft, high-pitched sustained trills at the end of the Poème pour violon et orchestre by Ernest Chausson to witness this musician’s capabilities. The Aparté recording is warm and sets the violin slightly forward of the orchestra with excellent balance. Conductor Jac van Steen’s support always follows the violinist’s expressive direction and dynamic inflections.