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Nuit Exotique
Vittorio MONTI (1868-1922)
Czardas [4.52]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Hungarian Dance No 1 Arranged Joachim [3.08]
Hungarian Dance No.2 Arranged Joachim [3.03]
Jenö HUBAY (1858-1937)
Hejre Kati, Op. 32 [5.51]
Pablo de SARASATE (1844-1908)
Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20 [8.23]
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)
Suite Populaire Espagnole; Nana [2.23]
Pancho VLADIGEROV (1899-1978)
Suite Bulgare; Chant, Op. 21/2 [5.57]
Elli, Elli arranged by Mischa Elman [3.22]
Joseph ACHRON (1886-1943)
Hebrew Lullaby [2.34]
Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959)
Baal Shem; Nigun [6.22]
Nuit Exotique [3.29]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Pièce en forme de Habanera [2.40]
Tzigane for violin and luthéal * [10.07]
Ragin (violin)
Rohan De Silva (piano and luthéal*)
Recorded February 1996, Recital Hall, State University of New York at Purchase
CENTAUR CRC 2392 [62.59]



Ragin, whom some will better know as Ragin Wenk-Wolff, has made some innovative recordings and her coupling for Centaur of the Concertos of Johan Kvandal and Ragnar Söderlind was particularly exploratory and commendable.

This disc of Gypsy and Jewish music was recorded back in 1996. She takes an interesting approach but not I think, at least to me, an especially convincing one. Her way is to underline the gypsy elements with a battery of devices, both left and right hand, which leave little room for stylistic compromise. The Monti Czardas is, to use Gerontius’ phrase, “done to death” through a sickly application of constant portamento, and the ceaseless swellings and bulges that attend to the Brahms Dances sound smeary, the elastic approach to rhythm far too uncontrolled; she’s also sometimes flat in the second Dance. Her quivery bowing in the Hubay is a novelty – but a mincing, surely inappropriate one. Hubay made a number of records and this sounds nothing like his style.

On Jewish territory her Bloch is decent but can sound rather earthbound and her Elli Elli, which is here ascribed to Mischa Elman but which was an arrangement by him of a well-known song, is a touch rushed and lacks opulence. She seems to conflate the two musics in the Tzigane, which emerge as distinctly Semitic-sounding; not in the sense that E J Moeran put down Heifetz’s Elgar Concerto – that was just a vulgar jibe. This is perhaps not altogether inappropriate. Incidentally this may be the first performance on disc of the Tzigane with luthéal – it far predates the Daniel Hope and Philippe Graffin discs. It’s certainly neither as colouristic nor as engaging as either of those discs but I commend Ragin and De Silva for their enterprise.

The Achron, judged against the Miriam Kramer-Simon Over ASV all-Achron disc lacks mystery and is simply too loud and fast and there are some dubiously frivolous touches in the Sarasate. But I enjoyed the Vladigerov.

Not a disc that I felt comfortable with.

Jonathan Woolf



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