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Violin Magic
Zdeněk FIBICH (1850-1900)

Poem from Idyll At Twilight, Op. 39 (1893) [02:36]
Václav VAČKÁŘ (1881-1954)

Vzpomínka na Zbiroh. Serenade [3.27]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)

Pavane pour une infante défunte (1899) [5.56]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)

Beau soir (c.1880) [5.04]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Air from Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major (Ouvertüre III.), BWV 1068 [5.24]
Georg Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)

Rinaldo - Lascia ch’io pianga [3.02]
Siegfried OCHS (1858-1929)

Dank sei dir, Herr from the Cantata con Stromenti
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)

Pavane Op.50 (1887) [5.42]
Apres un rêve Op.7 (1878) [2.50]
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)

Když mne stará matka – Songs My Mother Taught Me (Gypsy songs. On text by Adolf Heyduk, Op. 55) (1880) [2.24]

Rudolf FRIML (1879-1972)

Indian Love Call (from Rose Marie. Operetta in 3 Acts) (1924) [2.44]
Ó Rose Marie, ó báje - Act 1: Indian Love Song (from Rose Marie. Operetta in 3 Acts) (1924) [1.54]
Johann STRAUSS Jr (1825-1899)

Geschichten vom Weiner Wald - Tales from the Vienna Woods Op. 325 (1868) [5.14]
Josef SUK (1874-1935)

Pisen Lasky - Love Song, Op. 7, No. 1 (1891-93) [5.08]
All arrangements by Otmar Mácha

Gabriela Demeterová (violin)
Jana Boušková (harp)
Tereza Mátlová (soprano – Debussy, Fauré)
Czech Philharmonic Collegium/Jan Chalupecký
Recorded at the Domovina Studio, Prague, April 1999
SUPRAPHON SU 3792-2 [54.39]


Rising Czech star Gabriela Demeterová has won her spurs in romantic literature as well as delving assiduously into the baroque era on disc. Her Bach Violin and Harpsichord sonata set has been well received and she has also recorded Stamitz. I caught one volume of her Biber Mystery Sonatas and liked what I heard – critically-informed musicianship from the perspective of a modern instrument player who has learned from the experience of practitioners in the baroque violin camp. So her twelfth Supraphon disc comes, to me at least, as a bit of a surprise. Yes there’s Fibich and Dvořák but as Star Trek’s Bones would have put it; “It’s Suk, Jim, but not as we know it.”

The extra ingredient comes in the form of arrangements by Otmar Mácha. Not content with orchestrations and a prominent part for harp he has also utilised the services of a soprano, Tereza Mátlová whose vocalise, whilst well pitched and warm, does tend to the grandiose. So these sweetmeats are decked out in new finery – and not all of them are violin pieces by any means – in the interests of an hour’s worth of easy listening. Demeterová’s violin playing is deliberately low calorific. She doesn’t make a meal out of what is already something of a meal – so her participation is pleasant at best. Mácha tweaks the melody line of the Fibich and can’t elevate the accompaniment to the Vačkář to much above the merely pianistic; it tends to be a vamp-till-ready utilitarianism that tends to crop up elsewhere. Harp glissandi spice the Ravel, though the arrangement is otherwise too coy, especially when Mátlová joins in. The Czech Philharmonic Collegium is actually a practised (modern instrument) baroque band but they dig into the strings in old style fashion for the Bach and also in what the disc claims is "Handel’s Arioso". Hold on folks, this is Siegfried Ochs’ Dank sei dir, Herr from the Cantata con Stromenti. Someone has a very old edition – pre-War if they think it’s Handel.

What definitely is Handel is the aria from Rinaldo, Lascia ch’io pianga, which I have to say I enjoyed rather more than the Fauré Pavane and its patter of pizzicati and counter themes reinforced by solo voice. This composer seems to bring out the worst in the arranger; Apres un rêve really is a bit of a shocker. And as for the Suk, well, it’s difficult to transcribe and arrange this other than pianistically; the arranger has gone in for over-orchestration maybe to over compensate for the pianistic problems. As elsewhere Demeterová can be rather squeezed out of the equation.

Originally recorded in 1999 this edition comes with the CD compatible to play with Windows PCs (Real Player) as a video. Having a disc drive problem at the moment I can’t test it. But I think the main audience here will be for the charismatic violinist – albeit in rather so-so arrangements.

Jonathan Woolf

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