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Niv Ashkenazi and Matthew Graybil bring formidable technical prowess, unerring command, and musicality to the hour-long 'Violins of Hope' recording / textura

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Much attention will be given to the instrument violinist Niv Ashkenazi plays on his debut album-justifiably so-but as much should go to the calibre of the performances he and pianist Matthew Graybil, Juilliard graduates both, bring to this special recording. The album takes its name from a project founded by Israeli luthiers Amnon Weinstein and his son Avshalom whereby instruments owned by Jewish musicians before and during the Holocaust are collected and refurbished to concert quality so that their voices can be heard anew. The violins in the collection (the Weinsteins have restored nearly seventy) were played in the concentration camps and ghettos; Ashkenazi's is the first solo album to have been recorded on one of those instruments. He also holds the distinction of being the only violinist in the world to have an instrument from the collection on long-term loan.

Active as solo and chamber musicians, Ashkenazi and Graybil bring formidable technical prowess, unerring command, and musicality to the hour-long recording. There's an authenticity to these performances that shows how deeply the album's content and the 'Violins of Hope' project resonate with both artists. Adding to the material's resonance, many of the composers featured were directly affected by the Holocaust. All but one of the selections are twentieth-century pieces, the exception Israeli-American composer Sharon Farber's arrangement of a movement from her 2014 cello concerto Bestemming, performed in a four-hands arrangement with actor Tony Campisi narrating. While the album was recorded at at California State University in July 2019, Ashkenazi and Graybil first collaborated on a 'Violins of Hope' project in Sarasota, Florida in 2017.

With this wonderful collection and his involvement with the 'Violins of Hope' project, Ashkenazi has done much to help ensure that the voices criminally silenced by the Holocaust are heard again. Certainly the sincerity with which these performances are delivered honours their memory with dignity and compassion.

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