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Superb debut album features folk-like fantasies, classic and original

With several competition prizes and career grants under her belt, the young violinist Tessa Lark has been in demand as a concerto soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician. Lark was born in Richmond, Kentucky, and her earliest influences were Bluegrass and American roots music; her career, she says, has been informed by her “fiddler’s soul.” For her first solo recording, Lark has collected several free-form, quasi-improvisational works—fantasies—that seem to the performer to have a “folk-like freedom.” She plays three of Telemann’s unaccompanied Fantasies and, also for violin alone, her own Appalachian Fantasy, a four-minute gem that feels very authentic in musical substance, tone, and execution. Lark is joined by pianist Amy Yang for the most substantial work on the program, Schubert’s Fantasie in C Major, D934, which the violinist and her accompanist keep vital despite the 25-minute running time. Yang also provides attentive support for Fritz Kreisler’s Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta and Ravel’s virtuosic Tzigane. Lark plays a 1683 Stradivarius and her sound is sweet but never cloying. The recording is superb, thanks to veteran engineer/producer Judith Sherman and the choice of venue, the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York City. The violin sonority is richly textured and the piano has weight and dimensionality.

Andrew Quint, The Absolute Sound
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