Childsplay is an occasional ensemble who derive their name from the fact that all the musicians play instruments made by the American violin maker Bob Childs. As the title of the disc suggests, all the tunes contained within this disc are waltzes – or at least in 3/4 time. Every now and then these musicians gather to make recordings and play concerts. The Great Waltz is the second of those recordings, while Barb Truex has reviewed of one of their concerts.
The disc opens with “Galician Waltz,” a 3:45 minute dance tune from the Northwest corner of Spain, played by three violins, guitar and bass. The track features a sweet pastoral melody with a robust rhythm, and serves as a fine introduction to what is to come. Following this is “Tourner A Trois,” a tune composed for a contradance competition Featuring a standard string quartet, this track is more “mannered” and classical than its predecessor. The opening trio is completed by “La Valser Di Mezzanotte,” which was learnt from an Italian mandolin player, even though it sounds more Viennese to me. In contrast, “Vals Efter Timas Hans Hansson” is an old Swedish dance tune, played by five violins and accompanied by drum and bass. Most of the time the violins play a tune in unison which unwinds and develops, showing a completely different compositional attitude to “La Valser.”
These opening four tracks indicate the width of this disc’s range, bringing one to the conclusion that liking one track does not exclusively mean that one will like the next track. Due to the changing personnel and instrumental line-ups, the disc is more like a sampler of modern violin music, whose common denominators are the violin maker and time signature. I thoroughly enjoyed some tracks, whereas others failed to gain my attention, or deliberately lost it. All of the above is not meant to denigrate from the standard of playing and production, nor from the fine tone of the violins, although one needs to listen via high standard loudspeakers in order to be aware of the nuances of Childs’ work.