Solo Violin Music of Ivan Khandoshkin
by Anastasia Khitruk
I’ve been surrounded by great music
all my life. My mother is a concert
pianist and she played music while I
was in the womb. When, to my piano-playing
family’s surprise, I decided to take
up the violin, I entered into another,
equally beautiful realm. In practice
rooms, and at lessons, concerts and
master classes, the great works for
violin became part of my very consciousness.
When I die, the autopsy will probably
show permanently etched scores of Tchaikovsky’s
violin works inside my ears.
Imagine my surprise, when, in one of
my periodic raids through the used music
pile at Frank Music in New York, I came
across a Russian composer of whom I’d
never heard: Ivan Khandoshkin. I looked
at a copy of his Sonata no.1 for violin
solo, and thinking Khandoshkin must
be a contemporary composer who hadn’t
been discovered, and seeing the (cheap)
price of the score, I bought the music
without even opening it.
At home, I read through the Sonata,
found it quite difficult, and assumed
it was written in the 19th
century. "Too much work" was
my verdict. The music went into the
cupboard, and there it stayed for the
A year later, I had the opportunity
to present a number of concerts for
solo violin. Most of the program was
clear: Bach, Ysaye, Shchedrin, maybe
a little Paganini and Kreisler to round
out the mix. But the program needed
something else; I didn’t know what.
Out came my stash of as-yet-unplayed
scores. This time, as I read through
the Khandoshkin, the unusual character
of the music was obvious. This wasn’t
German counterpoint, or Italian bel
canto, or anything familiar at all.
Rather, it was all these things, blended
into a very distinct, and unfamiliar
mix. More importantly, it would serve
beautifully as a bridge between Bach
As I learned the piece, I became curious
as to its provenance. Who, exactly,
was this Khandoshkin? Where did he learn
to play like that? The first surprise
was right there on the music: the date.
This was virtuoso violin music written
by a Russian violinist and fifty years
before Russian music was supposed to
have begun! As far as I knew, Russian
music started with Glinka. Obviously,
I was wrong.
The first few Russian musicians I asked
were aware of Khandoshkin’s existence,
but had never heard the music itself.
In fact, Khandoshkin was more famous
for the many forgeries ascribed to him,
than for any music he created. Clearly,
I would need an expert, so I called
my friend, Alexandre Brussilovsky. A
fantastic violinist, he has an encyclopedic
knowledge of violin repertoire. Jackpot!
I learned the incredible, improbable
story of a man universally lauded in
his lifetime for his remarkable violin
playing, but who died in obscurity and
penury, his music forgotten and lost.
I learned that St. Petersburg was not,
as I had thought, a backwater during
Catherine the Great’s time, but a cultural
center lavishly funded by Catherine’s
treasury. Not only did Alexandre know
the music, and have all the scores,
he provided me with invaluable musical
I began a series of concerts featuring
Khandoshkin, not knowing how the music
would be received. To my great surprise
and pleasure, it had a universal appeal.
Classical music neophytes found it beautiful,
and the experts enjoyed discovering
something new. Fellow violinists got
their usual sadistic pleasure watching
a colleague somersault through various
difficult passages. One of these performances
was attended by a gentleman called Peter
Tcherepnine. From a deeply cultured
family, he is descended from not one,
but two fantastic composers of that
last name. Peter, although he lives
in New York, is a true Russophile -
not surprising, considering his background
- and immediately suggested recording
Khandoshkin. Through the Tcherepnine
Society, I was able to record these
works where they were born, Saint Petersburg.
I hope that this record will allow
Ivan Khandoshkin to retake his rightful
place in violin history, that of a groundbreaking
violin virtuoso and composer. I feel
very lucky that the company releasing
this record, Naxos, has helped me in
bringing this music, and this musician,
back to the audience’s attention and
About Anastasia Khitruk
Anastasia Khitruk comes from a musical
and artistic family. After immigration
to the United States, Ms. Khitruk continued
the violin studies she had begun at
Moscow's Central Music School. Her talent
was immediately recognized when she
made her orchestral debut at the age
of eight. Since then, she has appeared
in concert and recital worldwide, including
numerous performances in Boston, Los
Angeles, New York, Aspen, London, Geneva,
Adelaide, Sofia, Paris and Moscow -
where Katerina Birukova of Vremya wrote:
"She sparkles with brilliant violin
playing". Ms. Khitruk has appeared on
television and radio in England, Russia,
Germany, the United States and Australia.
Her concert series in Bulgaria, during
the prestigious Sofia Music Weeks, was
televised and greeted with enthusiasm.
In his review of her performance of
the Shostakovich Concerto No. 1 at the
Adelaide Festival for Real Time, Chris
Reid declared, "Anastasia Khitruk is
masterful!" She has been a prizewinner
at numerous competitions in the U.S.
and internationally, including the Paganini
International Violin Competition.
An enthusiastic champion of modern
music, Ms. Khitruk is often chosen to
premiere works of young composers. In
addition to pursuing her concert career,
she is devoted to developing young audiences
in her role as president of the Manhattan
Music Society, a New York-based foundation.
Read her latest Anastasia’s Violin
newsletter at http://www.jamesarts.com/releases/june06/AN_nws_062606.htm.
Visit her website at http://www.anastasiakhitruk.com
Violin Sonata in G minor, Op. 3,
No. 1 (published 1800-08) [19:58]
Violin Sonata in E flat major, Op. 3,
No. 2 (published 1800-08) [13:10]
Violin Sonata in D major, Op. 3, No.
3 (published 1800-08) [13:09]
Six Old Russian Songs (c.1783) (No.
1. Along the bridge, this bridge [5:15]
*; No. 2. Is this my fate, this fate?
[3:15]; No. 3. Little dove why do you
sit so sadly? [5:11]; No. 4. What happened
and why? [3:00]; No. 5. Once I gathered
golden sheaves [2:58]; No. 6. Once I
was a young man [4:07])
Anastasia Khitruk (violin)
Dimitry Yakubovski (viola) *
Kirill Yevtushenko, (cello) (Old Russian
rec. Melodiya Studios, Catherine’s Church,
St Petersburg, May 2005. DDD
NAXOS 8.570028 [70.17]
Reviewd by Jonathan
Woolf and Glyn