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
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.