Violinist Itamar Zorman to release VIOLIN ODYSSEY, A QUEST FOR NEW VIOLIN REPERTOIRE

On Friday June 3, 2022, the violinist Itamar Zorman will release a new album Violin Odyssey on First Hand Records. Born from Zorman’s 2020 live stream video series hidden gems, with the world in lockdown and concerts at a standstill, the album is a virtual trip around the world that uncovered many lesser-known and rarely performed violin works. From this musical treasure, he selected 10 pieces for Violin Odyssey, performed with pianists Ieva Jokubaviciute and Kwan Yi and recorded by Grammy Award-winning producer Judith Sherman at Duke University’s Baldwin Auditorium in Durham, North Carolina. ‘last year. The album is supported by the Trust Borletti-Buitoni.

The distant geographical origins of the repertoire – from New Zealand to the United States via Sudan, China, Russia, Poland, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Israel and Mexico – reveal a fascinating variety of styles and cultural diversity in these countries rarely heard works. As part of his research, Itamar consulted musical experts and spoke with the composers themselves. The confinement has made it possible to deepen reflection on global social and environmental issues and these have participated in the mapping of the repertoire, which also bears traces of family ties at home and abroad: Itamar has chose a piece composed by his father Moshe Zorman in Israel, explored pieces written for children with his granddaughter and collaborated closely with his wife, pianist Liza Stepanova, who accompanied him on the first hidden gems live stream.

Two more important works define the framework of the album – the Slavic Sonata (1917) written by Croatian noblewoman Dora Pejačević and the Second Sonata for Violin and Piano (1927) by Czech composer Erwin Schulhoff. While sharing the flavor of Eastern Europe, the two sonatas, written only 10 years apart, are stylistically far apart. Pejačević’s sonata continues and develops the romantic tradition of works for violin and piano, while Schulhoff’s draws on a wide range of sources from jazz to expressionism.

These particularly dramatic works are complemented by a program of shorter pieces with evocative titles that suggest small adventures and encounters on a traveller’s journey, starting with Wanderings by Israeli composer Moshe Zorman. More time with her baby girl has opened Itamar’s ears to Russian-born Joseph Achron’s children’s suite – a collection of miniature scenes from childhood, from walking toys to chirping birds.

Lively encounters with street vendors in Mexico are apparent in Afilador and Tierra p a las macetas by Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas in which urban sounds and cries of vendors are heard, while the uplifting pulse and rhythm of dance folklore resonate in Grazyna Bacewicz’s virtuoso Oberek No. 1. Dance tempos are also apparent in Afromood by Sudanese composer Ali Osman with its African rhythms and jazz influences reinforced by percussionist Julia Thompson on tambourine, while a mysterious glacial lake with a rising and falling tide (caused by the breath of an ancient monster living in its depths according to Maori legend) is the inspiration for Gareth Farr’s Wakatipu.

Chinese composer Gao Ping takes a folk song as the theme for his contemplation of the earthquake that tragically devastated his Sichuan homeland in Questioning the Mountains. Finally, the journey ends with Summerland, a vision of beauty in the afterlife, composed by American William Grant Still, a major historical figure whose achievements include being the first African American to conduct a symphony orchestra in the United States and the first to have an opera produced by a major company.

About Itamar Zorman

Itamar Zorman is one of the most moving and evocative artists of his generation, distinguished by his captivating performances and gift for musical storytelling. Since his first prize appearance at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 2011, he has wowed audiences around the world with his jaw-dropping style, leading one reviewer to declare him a “young badass who’s not afraid of nothing” (CultureMap Houston). His “youthful intensity” and his “painfully beautiful” sound (Bachtrack) shine through in every performance, earning him the title of “virtuoso of emotions” (Göttinger Tageblatt). Recipient of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award in 2014, violinist Itamar Zorman is the winner of the 2013 Avery Fisher Career Fellowship and the 2011 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Russia.

Zorman has performed as a soloist with orchestras such as the Mariinsky Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, New World Symphony Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Seoul Symphony Orchestra KBS, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchester National du Capitole de Toulouse, Kremerata Baltica, RTE National Symphony Orchestra (Dublin) and American Symphony. He has worked with conductors such as Valery Gergiev, Zubin Mehta, Michael Tilson-Thomas, David Robertson, James DePreist, Karina Canellakis, Yuri Bashmet, Michael Stern, Nathalie Stutzmann and Thierry Fischer. Mr. Zorman has performed worldwide at venues including Avery Fisher Hall, Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium, Tokyo’s Suntory Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, and the Teatro Massimo Palermo. As a recitalist, he has performed at Carnegie Hall’s Distinctive Debut Series, Wigmore Hall, People’s Symphony Concerts, Merkin Hall, Musée du Louvre, Suntory Hall Laeiszhalle Hamburg and HR-Sendesaal Frankfurt.

Itamar Zorman has been invited to festivals in Verbier, Marlboro, Rheingau, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brevard, Classical Tahoe, MITO SettembreMusica and Radio France. He has also collaborated with a number of legendary artists such as Richard Goode (including performances at Carnegie Hall and the Library of Congress), Mitsuko Uchida, Steven Isserlis and Jörg Widmann.

As part of an ongoing exploration of the music of Paul Ben-Haim, Mr Zorman released a CD of the works for violin and orchestra with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Philippe Bach for BIS Records, in April 2019, titled Evocation . His first solo CD recording, entitled Portrait, features works by Messiaen, Schubert, Chausson, Hindemith and Brahms and was published by Profil – Editions Günther Hänssler.

Itamar Zorman is also a committed chamber musician. He is a founding member of the Israeli Chamber Project and a member of the Lysander Piano Trio, with which he won the Concert Artists Guild Competition 2012, the Grand Prix of the Coleman Chamber Music Competition 2011, the 1st prize of the Arriaga Competition 2011, and a medal. Bronze at the 2010 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.

Born in Tel-Aviv in 1985 into a family of musicians, Itamar Zorman began his violin studies at the age of six with Saly Bockel at the Israeli Conservatory of Music in Tel-Aviv. He graduated in 2003 and continued his studies with Professor David Chen and Nava Milo. He received his Bachelor of Music from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance as a student of Hagai Shaham, and his Masters of Music from the Juilliard School in 2009, where he studied with Robert Mann and Sylvia Rosenberg. He went on to receive an Artist Diploma from the Manhattan School of Music in 2010 and an Artist Diploma from Julliard in 2012 under the tutelage of Sylvia Rosenberg, and he is an alumnus of Kronberg Academy where he studied with Christian Tetzlaff and Mauricio Fuks. He is also a recipient of scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation and has participated in numerous master classes around the world, working with Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Shlomo Mintz, Ida Handel and Ivry Gitlis.

Zorman is currently a visiting guest artist at the Eastman School of Music. He plays on a Guarneri del Gesù from 1734, from the collection of Yehuda Zisapel. Learn more about www.itamarzorman.com.

Violin Odyssey track listing

1. Grazyna Bacewicz – Oberek No. 1 (1949)*
2. Moshe Zorman – Wanderings (1994)*
3-10. Joseph Achron (arr. Jascha Heifetz) – Suite for Children, Op. 57 (circa 1925)**
11-13. Dora Pejačević – Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 43 “Slavic Sonata” (1917)*
14. Silvestre Revueltas – Afilador (1924)*
15. Silvestre Revueltas – Tierra p’a las macetas (1924)*
16. Ali Osman – Afromood (2010)**
Julia Thompson, tambourine
17. Gao Ping – Asking the Mountains (2008)*
18. Gareth Farr – Wakatipu (2009)
19-22. Erwin Schulhoff – Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 (1927)**
23. William Grant Still – Summerland (1935)*

Itamar Zorman, violin
Ieva Jokubaviciute, piano *
Kwan Yi, piano **

Violin Odyssey (FHR119)
Producer: Judith Sherman
Engineer: Chris Boerner
Recorded February 2021 in Durham, NC

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