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Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Violin Concerto in D major, Op 61 (1806)
Jakov Gotovac (1895-1982)
Kolo Symphonique, Op 12 (1926)
Koleda, Op 11 (1925)
Igor Ozim (violin)
Orchestre Philharmonique de Zagreb/Milan Horvat
Choeur d'hommes et ensemble d'instrumentistes/Emil Cossetto (Koleda)
rec. 1958, 1961 (Beethoven)
FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR2079 [68]

The focus of this release is a glowing performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto, recorded in 1961. The soloist is Igor Ozim, a name that won’t be that familiar to most. He’s partnered by the Croatian conductor Milan Horvat (1919-2014) at the helm of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Zagreb. The recording has great significance for me, as the Wing LP from which this inscription derives was my first introduction the work. My original LP is long gone and I was thrilled to see that Forgotten Records have just reissued the recording. I’m glad to be reacquainted with the performance, for old times’ sake more than anything.

Ozim was born in Ljubljana, the Slovenian capital, in 1931. He hailed from a musical family and began studying the violin privately aged five with Leon Pfeifer, a former student of Otakar Ševčík, at the city’s Academy of Music. Three years later he gained admission to Pfeifer's class at the Academy. He came to London in 1949 on a British Council scholarship to further his studies. Whilst there, he spent some time learning the Elgar Violin Concerto with Albert Sammons, and two years further studies with Max Rostal. In 1951 he won the International Carl Flesch Violin Competition. Ozim is still alive, aged ninety-one.

The Beethoven Concerto is one of nobility, dignity and refinement, and Ozim plays with elegance and style. Horvat establishes tempi which I’d describe as comfortable. Throughout, soloist and conductor seem of one mind. The slow movement, the emotional heart of the work, is notable for its profundity and offers a wealth of insights, with Ozim caressing the long lyrical lines. The finale is taken at a more steady pace and maybe lacks the gusto and vigour of some performances I’ve heard. Ozim commands a silken and mellifluous tone, enhanced by a wonderfully even vibrato. Expressive slides don’t play a significant part in his vocabulary. His intonation is impeccable. He utilizes the Kreisler cadenza. There have been countless recordings of the Concerto over the years, and this one holds its own quite proudly.

The remainder of the disc is devoted to two works by the Croatian composer Jakov Gotovac. His brief Kolo Symphonique dates from 1926. The recording, with Horvac and his Zagreb forces, dates from 1958. Its spicy and exotic rhythms have plenty of pull and punch and make a striking impact, and reveal Gotovac a versatile and colourful orchestrator.

A year earlier the composer had penned his Koledo, Op 11 for men’s choir, 3 clarinets, 2 bassoons, cymbals and tambourine. Koledo is a traditional Slavic festival, celebrated late December to honor the sun during the winter solstice, during which groups of singers visit houses and sing carols. It’s a very attractive work with an impressive colour scheme and mesmerizing rhythms. Emil Cossetto directs a stunning performance.

The transfers are first-class and can be warmly commended.  The CD comes without any notes, but various websites are offered for those who wish to explore further.
 
Stephen Greenbank

Published: November 29, 2022




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