The New York Times (June 20, 2008) — “…The program’s main draw was the New York premiere of George Tsontakis’s Violin Concerto No. 2 (2003)…A compact, eventful score, it makes good use of the orchestra’s resources…and treats the violin as both a distinctive solo voice and an essential strand within the ensemble texture. In its solo passages the violin often projects an old-fashioned rhapsodic style, which was magnified by Yevgeny Kutik’s rich, sweet tone. The orchestral writing often had a sharper harmonic edge and used the solo violin more assertively and with an earthier sound. George Rothman led a thoroughly prepared, energetic performance…”
Kutik) and ensemble is almost always adversarial. Conductor Kazem Abdullah served as referee…”
ArtsFuse (April 9, 2012) — “This recording heralds a serious, probing musician exploring some vital, if unfamiliar, twentieth-century violin repertoire, and, as such, presents a more-than-welcome addition to recent solo violin discography.”
Sounds of Defiance, Russian-American violinist Yevgeny Kutik’s debut album on the Marquis label comes weighted with significance for the young musician. Its focus on music written in the Soviet Union echoes the “profound connection” Mr. Kutik writes that he feels with that nation’s history and culture, while the inclusion of two pieces by Joseph Achron emphasize the violinist’s Jewish heritage.
Accompanied by the excellent pianist Timothy Bozarth, Mr. Kutik pulls no punches here: he has technique to burn, to be sure, but his technique never overshadows his innate musical sensibilities. This recording heralds a serious, probing musician exploring some vital, if unfamiliar, twentieth-century violin repertoire, and, as such, presents a more-than-welcome addition to recent solo violin discography.
The two big pieces on the CD, Alfred Schnittke’s Violin Sonata no. 1 (1963) and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Sonata for Violin and Piano (1968), are given thoroughly characteristic performances. Neither sonata is widely known, though both have been recorded by some fine violinists in the past, including Daniel Hope and Ilya Gringolts (Schnittke), and Joshua Bell and David Oistrakh (Shostakovich). Mr. Kutik’s performances of both pieces hold up with the best of them.
The Schnittke Sonata presents some early examples of the composer’s later technique of “polystylism,” in which contrasting musical styles are layered and juxtaposed, though it is probably the influence of Shostakovich that looms largest on this score. Mr. Kutik is at his most aggressive in the fast second and fourth movements, dramatically emphasizing Schnittke’s dissonant textures, while the third movement allows him to demonstrate his great lyrical capabilities.
The Shostakovich Sonata was written for the incomparable David Oistrakh and falling, as it does, towards the end of Shostakovich’s life, reflects the ambiguous tone of that composer’s last two symphonies and his Viola Sonata. Mr. Kutik has a very strong sense of this music’s brooding character, particularly in its outer movements. Mr. Bozarth proves himself an ideal accompanist, especially in the busy textures of this Sonata, ever present but not overwhelming Mr. Kutik’s playing in this performance truly captures the “violin and piano” quality of Shostakovich’s title.
Filling out the disc are two lovely Joseph Achron compositions, Hebrew Melody (op. 33) and Hebrew Lullaby (op. 35, no. 2), and Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel. The Achron pieces are given expressive, soulful readings, while the gentle Pärt opus provides a benediction of sorts. Mr. Kutik and Mr. Bozarth are at their most sensitive and understated in this latter selection, never rising above a piano dynamic, allowing the score’s slowly unfolding tonal harmonies to function as a balm for the musical turbulence previously experienced. It’s all positively haunting.
DerWesten (Germany) (March 8, 2010) — “… [the WDR Radio Symphony Orchestra] concert included peak performances by soloists, including young Russian violinist Yevgeny Kutik, who enraptured the crowd with the ‘Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso’ by Saint-Saens…”
Staten Island Advance (February 16, 2011) — “…For all its atonal challenges, this 12-tone piece (Shostakovich) is full of invention and beauty and Kutik played it lucidly…Kutik was very much the soulful wunderkind: Innocent and passionate, with an audible gift for drama.”
Preview Magazine, Jason Serinus (San Francisco) (September 1, 2010) — “… [Kutik plays with] an irresistibly round and mellow old-world sound that is as equally suited to Bach and Beethoven as to Shostakovich and Shchedrin. Combining the warmth of a centuries-old tradition with the forward thrust of today, Kutik’s playing cuts through the dross and reaches into the heart of music…”
The Berkshire Eagle (January 13, 2009) — ”…Taking on Schumann’s rarely performed Sonata No. 2, he and Eguchi achieved a moment of sublimity in the gentle andante movement, a theme and variations based on a chorale-like melody. The prevailing tranquility is interrupted by brief but angry outbursts. In the performance, the alternating states beautifully reflected the gentle Schumann’s condition at that late stage in his life… [in the Prokofiev] he fiddled up a storm in the razzle-dazzle stuff and outright diablerie. The jaunty finale offers a bag of tricks for the violinist, and Kutik, with Eguchi in full agreement, proved himself a suitable trickster…”
The Berkshire Eagle (August 2, 2006) — “…At Sunday night’s penultimate concert…violinist Yevgeny Kutik won the virtuoso award (had there been one) for his razzle-dazzle solo performance in Ron Ford’s “Versus,” a TMC commission receiving its premiere…(Ford) hit upon the idea of having the soloist play an all but independent line over an ensemble of 10 winds and four double basses. Somewhere around the middle, the wind players switch to a panoply of tuned water glasses. In the first part, the ensemble plays a grinding, obsessive pattern that suggests a car-crushing machine run amok. In the placid second part, the water glasses’ shimmer merges with a double-bass drone to produce a spooky effect. What the two parts had to do with each other was a bit of a mystery, but Kutik, conductor Kazem Abdullah and the ensemble went at them with gusto…”