I saw Manoug Parikian only once in concert
as a soloist, not too long before his death. He played the
Delius concerto, which he’d studied many years before with
its dedicatee, Albert Sammons. It was a concert in a suburban
church and so was hardly the most prestigious affair in the
world but Parikian was a professional to his fingertips and
played beautifully. I wish some recorded evidence exists somewhere
of his way with this work.
But he was no stranger to the core repertoire,
either concerto or chamber. I remember a coupling he made
in Germany of Mozart’s K216 and K218 when he was accompanied
by Walter Goehr for instance, but he made a number of intriguing
recordings across the repertoire and, as is well known, was
a devoted proponent of contemporary music.
Parikian was a steady visitor to Scandinavia
– not unlike the earlier visits of another British violinist
and contemporary, Alan Loveday. But it was Parikian who gave
the prestigious first Scandinavian performance of Shostakovich’s
First Concerto with the visiting RPO. And in the years to
come he made numerous visits as soloist, chamber player and
teacher and indeed he gave one of his very last performances
in Sweden, a month before his death in November 1987. Many
Swedish violinists studied with him either in their own country
or in London – and in fact the three string players who comprised
the Johnsen trio and are recorded with him here all studied
with Parikian. His influence on Swedish violin playing continues
to this day.
This disc presents two performances made for
Swedish Radio in 1961 and 1974. He was fifty one when he set
down the Mozart Divertimento with his Swedish colleagues.
The problems here are primarily ones of balance with the two
horns, problems that are very satisfactorily met by the technicians
from Swedish Radio. The strong concertante first violin part
is taken by Parikian with considerable dash – he was always
a fine Mozartian in whatever context – and he and his colleagues
bring real reserves of grazioso elegance to the first variation
of the second movement. Good blend and a good balance are
paramount – as is a fine colouration in the strings. The Adagio
generates its own internal rhythmic impetus whilst the Minueto
is relaxed and generously fluid.
The companion Beethoven Sextet also requires
expert control of the balance and dynamic problems. Recorded
a few years later this is another good example of Parikian’s
ensemble-leading qualities. The two horns are on rich and
fine form and blend attractively – their ebullient hunting
theme in the finale is very well brought off – whilst the
strings phrase with sprightly assurance. Altogether it’s a
well characterised and adept reading and again very well captured
and balanced by the radio team.
I dare say that these expert and mellifluous
performances are not quite the sturm und drang of the heroic
concerto or sonata literature that some might wish for. But
they do very well reflect the kind of repertoire Parikian
played – and the performances reveal his influence and importance
in Sweden. And for that we must thank Altfiol and encourage
them to release more things from the vaults to sit alongside
this pleasurable souvenir.