Boston Symphony Orchestra members Victor Romanul, violin, and Michael Zaretsky, viola, have released a new two-disc CD on the Artona label, featuring the world premiere recording of John William’s Duo Concertante, which was written for and dedicated to Michael Zaretsky. The CD, recorded at the historic Symphony Hall in Boston, also includes works by Aaron Copland, Louis Spohr, Bohuslav Martinu, Jakov Jakoulov and Alessandro Rolla.
“Duos for Violin and Viola” features works from a variety of eras through the hands of some of the greatest composers, due, in part, to the challenge and limitations of writing for this particular combination of instruments. Spohr’s “Duo for Violin and Viola,” and Alessandro Rolla’s “Duo Concertant in C,” contribute some of the earliest works on the recording, while Jakov Jakoulov’s “Chant IV” and John Williams’ “Duo Concertant” are world premiere recordings and recent works, both written for Zaretsky and Romanul.
Williams’ “Duo Concertan”t was partly triggered by the composer’s attendance at a chamber concert in Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood in 1997, during which Romanul and Zaretsky performed Martinu’s “Three Madrigals” (also featured on this recording). Talking with William’s afterward, Zaretsky suggested casually that the composer write his own duo for the two players. The piece came to fruition in 2006, and was premiered on Aug. 17, 2007, in Ozawa Hall.
Jakoulov’s “Chant IV” for violin and viola premiered at Symphony Hall in May 2006. The piece is part of a series of five string duos, a cycle beginning with a piece for two double basses and ending with a piece for two violins.
Violinist Romanul has been performing professionally since he was seven. An active recitalist, teacher, and soloist, he is a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and has been concertmaster of the Ars Poetica Chamber Orchestra and associate concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony. He has given recitals throughout the country, including a concert of the ten Beethoven violin sonatas; performances of Bach’s sonatas and partitas for solo violin in one recital, a recital of the complete solo sonatas of Eugene Ysaÿe, and recitals featuring solo violin music of Paganini, Sauret, Ernst, Wienawski, and Vieuxtemps. Romanul studied with Ivan Galamian, Joseph Silverstein, and Jascha Heifetz.
Born in the former Soviet Union, violist Zaretsky began his career in Moscow and Israel before joining the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Besides being a member of the BSO, he regularly plays solo recitals and chamber music throughout the world; he has appeared with such leading artists as Yuri Bashmet, Yefim Bronfman, Emanuel Ax, and Vadim Repin. Zaretsky has made five acclaimed recordings for ARTONA: “Black Snow,” an album of Russian music; “Bach, Bach & Bach”; “Simgular Voices: Brahms, Schumann, and the Viola”; Bach’s six cello suites performed on viola; and works of Hindemith. Mr. Zaretsky’s collaboration with composer Jakov Jakoulov has resulted in many new works featuring the viola.