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Julian Olevsky - Volume 3
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Violin Concertos Op.8 Il Cimento dellíArmonia e dellí invenzione (1725)

Violin Concerto No.1 in E major La Primavera RV269 [12.11]
Violin Concerto No.2 in G minor LíEstate RV315 [11.29]
Violin Concerto No.3 in F major líAutunno RV293 [10.18]
Violin Concerto No.4 in F minor LíInverno RV297 [11.22]
Violin Concerto No.5 in E flat major La Tempesta di Mare RV253 [10.31]
Violin Concerto No.6 in C major Il Piacere RV180 [9.45]
Violin Concerto No.7 in D minor RV242 [10.27]
Violin Concerto No.8 in G minor RV332 [12.16]
Violin Concerto No.9 in D minor RV236 [10.54]
Violin Concerto No.10 in B flat major La Caccia RV362 [9.39]
Violin Concerto No.11 in D major RV210 [13.52]
Violin Concerto No.12 in C major RV178 [12.33]
Julian Olevsky (violin)
Vienna State Opera Orchestra/Hermann Scherchen
Recorded c.1954
DOREMI DHR 7837/38 [65.47 + 69.51]

Record companies are slowly getting to grips with the history of the Four Seasons on disc. Molinariís pioneering account, reclothed for string orchestra sans soloist, has appeared on an Italian label, and the first ever recording of the "real deal" by the sumptuous Louis Kaufman has recently been issued by Naxos. An off air Campoli performance with Boyd Neel has come out on Pearl. To these the inquisitive fiddle-fancier can now add Doremiís restoration of Berlin-born Julian Olevskyís recording of the entire cycle of twelve concertos that make up Op.8. Set down circa 1954 with none less than Hermann Scherchen on the podium this is a rare opportunity to hear a most impressive talent, one whose career never really breached the upper echelons of the performing circuit and whose recordings have never achieved wide recognition. Yet thanks to Doremi we can now hear the complete cycle of Mozart sonatas for piano and violin and the Bach Sonatas and Partitas.

Olevsky was of Russian origin but was born in Berlin n 1926 moving to Argentina in 1935. There he studied with a violinist of distinction, if somewhat retrogressive technical equipment by then, Alexander Petschnikoff. Moving to America after a debut with Fritz Busch he made a number of discs for Westminster, had a good if unspectacular career and proved a good teacher. He died aged only fifty-nine in 1985.

He was about twenty-eight when he went to Vienna to record the Vivaldi, accompanied by the Vienna State Opera Orchestra and Scherchen.

Itís an uneven set. Olevsky was a fine player, elegant, warm if not opulently toned, and one who seldom had recourse to portamenti though he certainly did to expressive diminuendi. His contribution is fine if not especially personalised; I donít think youíd note any distinguishing characteristics. Which is not to say his playing is cool or uninteresting; on the contrary. The dominant force however is Scherchen. He makes sure the harpsichord is prominent throughout and certainly brings out some "interesting" harmonies in the slow movement of Spring Ė see-sawing strings, desolate middle voicings. His finale is also relatively slow and the tuttis donít really register, which may be a fault of the recording. The conductor insists on quite a bit of rubato in the opening of Summer and devitalised speeds for the slow movements of this and Autumn, albeit Scherchen explores the melodic and harmonic implications of Autumnís slow movement with real sagacity. Thereís good bass pointing in the same concertoís finale with fine instrumental exchanges but the opening of Winter now sounds merely dogged. Its slow movement must be one of the most heroically badly recorded in history. What possessed the engineers, or Scherchen, or Olevsky to allow the orchestral string pizzicatos almost entirely to obliterate Olevskyís solo line (and I do mean obliterate as in "render inaudible")? So a very uneven listening experience. Olevsky is a pleasing soloist, well mannered, technically eloquent, tonally accomplished, just without being able to assert much personality on the proceedings.

I enjoyed La Tempesta di Mare with its very warm slow movement and Il Piacere whose opening movement is very reminiscent of the opening of Spring. There are plenty of other interesting features scattered throughout the set; the well sprung finale of the D minor, No.7, or Olevskyís unusually expressive vibrato usage in the opening of the G minor, or indeed his quick slide in its Largo. There are good fugal entry points in the Allegro opening of the D major and some rather chuggy articulation in the first movement of the C major.

The transfer seems to have done with some care, though Iíve never had access to the original LP release with which I could make some comparison. Brief biographical notes complete the package.

Jonathan Woolf


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