Even if you didn’t know that violinist Frank Almond had been viciously attacked and his “Lipiński” Stradivarius lost for nine days, this recording would be a magnificent testament to his artistry. With the “Lipiński” tucked safely under his chin, Almond is a commanding and refined interpreter of works by Amanda Maier-Röntgen, Eduard Tubin and Beethoven. In two of the pieces, he teams with an equally authoritative artist, pianist William Wolfram.
The instrument provides Almond with the opportunity to revel in a tone at times lustrous and sleek, and also adaptable to the varied music he plays. The Violin Sonata in B minor by Maier-Röntgen, a Swedish composer and violinist from the late 19th century, is indebted to Schumann and Brahms in its heartfelt and brooding Romanticism. The three movements are beautifully crafted and give both violinist and pianist a forum to communicate with touching and dramatic intensity.
The Estonian composer Tubin fled to Sweden in 1944, a jarring move that can be heard in more than a few of his pieces, including the Solo Violin Sonata from 1962. It’s a mercurial work, full of slashing and nostalgic ideas that make its nearly 10-minute length a gripping experience. Almond gives a fiercely committed account.
Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata brings the musicians back together for a performance vivid in interplay and keenly attentive to the score’s wonders and mysteries. With Almond and Wolfram at the controls, the “Lipiński” teams with a Steinway model D to illuminating effect.
~ Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone, September 2016
“The fascination of Mozart’s violin, then, remains in the object itself. It doesn’t fully translate into sound — unlike the glorious “Lipinski” Stradivarius violin, for instance, which passed through the hands and lives of a number of composers beginning with Giuseppe Tartini, and whose fascinating journey is chronicled on a gorgeous recent CD, “A Violin’s Life,” with performances by Frank Almond and William Wolfram.”
~ Corrina da Fonseca-Wollheim, New York Times, 2013
When I first spoke to Milwaukee Symphony Concertmaster Frank Almond about the 1715 “Lipinski” Strad that he has been playing since 2008, he said that it was “an honor and privilege to be passing through its life.”…read more
~ Violinist.com, 2016
“Almond and William Wolfram are persuasive advocates for the bittersweet, Schumannesque Violin Sonata of Julius Röntgen’s first wife Amanda Maier. They relish the dark character and passion of its uneasy opening Allegro, contrast the barcarolle-like Andantino with its central quasi-scherzo section and bring out all the drama and fun of the rondo finale. Almond’s approach to Eduard Tubin’s solo Sonata (1962) is often forceful and uncompromising, yet his tonal sonority, clarity of articulation, technical assurance and deep understanding of the work’s structure and character combine to forge a magisterial performance.”
~ The Strad, August 24, 2016
“Frank Almond, leader of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, plays everything on this disc with a slightly old-fashioned air, the concentration of tone conveying the message that he’s in love not just with every twist and turn of the music but also every sound he can coax from his very special instrument.”
~ Michael Dervan, Irish Times, 2013
Almond had also achieved notoriety a year earlier, when his album, A Violin’s Life (Avie), traced the history of his storied Strad, named after Paganini’s great Polish rival, and the composers and violinists who once possessed it in music by Karol Lipiński, Schumann, Julius Röntgen, and Tartini—his Devil’s Trill Sonata, whose sinister implications seemed to have followed the Strad to Milwaukee in 2014…read more
~Strings Magazine, 2016
If only antiques could speak, what stories they might tell. Violinist Frank Almond, concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, has found a way to let a remarkable violin tell its own history through his recently released recording, “A Violin’s Life,” accompanied by pianist William Wolfram on the Avie label…read more
~ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel interview, 2013