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Aaron ROSAND: My Legacy.
Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937)

Nocturne and Tarantella Op. 28 (1915)
Three Myths Op. 30 (1915)
Romance Op. 23 (1910)
Roxana’s Song (from King Roger Op. 46) (1926)
Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)

Nocturne in E flat major Op. 9 No. 2 transcribed Sarasate
Nocturne in E minor Op. 37 No. 1 transcribed Wilhelmj
Nocturne in D major Op. 27 No. 2 transcribed Wilhelmj
Nocturne in C sharp minor Op. Posth. transcribed Milstein
Henryk WIENIAWSKI (1835-1880)

Capriccio-Valse Op. 7 (1852)
Saltarelle (Caprice)
Souvenir de Moscou Op. 6 (1853)
Aaron Rosand (violin)
Hugh Sung (piano)
Recorded at the Curtis Institute, May 2001
ARTEK AR 0011-2 [73.27]

Rosand’s Legacy, as one can determine from the programme he essays, is Polish. To this a little greater spice is added because he plays the ex-Kochanski Guarneri; Szymanowski’s Three Myths were dedicated to that magnificent but sadly short-lived violinist. Recorded in May 2001 Rosand shows few signs of technical decline and none at all of a loss of expressive nuance. Part of something of a Golden Age of American violinists – in an era in which Isaac Stern ruled the roost domestically – Rosand has recorded for a number of smaller labels and the latest is Artek. He is a marvellous musician and as he showed during his last London visit, when I heard him at the Wigmore Hall, his ability to coax a sweet yet powerful tone is unimpeded, his slides still apposite and tastefully deployed, his whole artistic persona one of generous engagement - one of the very best violinists of his generation.

He catches the soaringly fractured line in Szymanowski’s Nocturne, its folk impulses perfectly understood and in the Tarantella he is effortlessly virtuosic, a suitably dramatic orator; my only complaint is that the balance favours the excellent pianist Hugh Sung, a splendidly active musician but here one who can submerge the violin. The phantasmagoric intensity of the Fountain of Arethusa is treated to Rosand’s special poetic intensity and luscious deployment of expressive devices. His intonation remains under control, his playing one of optimum poeticism. In Narcissus he seems to inhabit its rapturous introversion - intoxicating – and he flutters and skitters, running through daredevil heroics in Dryads and Pan. But he is just as capable of catching the essence, the core of the hallucinatory, otherworldly syntax even down to the puckish, throwaway spectral finish. Rosand lavishes the full range of his bewitching tone colours on the Op. 23 Romance – very tender playing with superior and sophisticated finger position changes.

He also plays a group of Chopin Nocturnes; two in nowadays somewhat overlooked arrangements by August Wilhelmj, one by Sarasate and one by Milstein (the familiar C sharp minor). I like the way he points up the rather idiomatically solemn religiosity of the central section of the E minor (in the Wilhelmj transcription). Perhaps he lacks Milstein’s stillness in the C sharp minor but this is still a good performance. In the Wieniawski group his Capriccio-Valse is not too fingerbustingly motoric – it has colour, it has luscious tone, it has poise. The moto perpetuo type Saltarelle (actually a Caprice) is in true nineteenth century showstopper tradition – and Rosand doesn’t let us down – and the recital ends with the more familiar Souvenir de Moscou. Here is more evidence of the sheer elegance and precision of his playing. The harmonics are negotiated with panache though the tempo is never excessive.

My admiration for Rosand has lasted a long time and is undimmed. His latest release continues in the tradition of his august discographic predecessors. He is a violinist we will hear whatever he plays.

Jonathan Woolf

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