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Ivan KHANDOSHKIN (1747-1804)
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 Songs)
rec. Melodiya Studios, Catherine’s Church, St Petersburg, May 2005. DDD
NAXOS 8.570028 [70.17]

Khandoshkin usually receives a respectful paragraph in standard violin histories. As the first Russian violinist-composer in St Petersburg’s Imperial Court he gave native musicians the hope that they too could rise to eminence in a field dominated by Italian and French imports. His high technical skill and obvious mastery of certain techniques – rather paraded in his solo violin works – gained him renown, though it’s clear from the Italianate slant of his compositions that he had absorbed many pertinent lessons from such as Tartini.

And yet one must also look to C.P.E. Bach, as the notes suggest, for a wider appreciation of the influences he took and processed; also, I would suggest, J.S. Bach as well. In the G minor solo sonata the level of accomplishment is decidedly high and the technical demands incessant. He was particularly fond of arpeggiated writing which, accompanied by a battery of ostinati and quadruple stopping (unnecessarily complicated one would have thought unless it was to parade his own command), gives the sonata a dramatic and tensile quality. The quality one is left with, above these and other features, is however the ornamental one. He was over-fond of decorative curlicues that give the music a rather frivolously clotted feel; mitigated it’s true by his quixotic theme lengths. The up and down staccati of the finale are more decorative than solidly musical, even though they must have aroused considerable enthusiasm at court.

The E flat major sonata is less of a show-piece, though the decorative writing is again a constant feature. The most consistently impressive of the movements is the finale with its bluntly accented rhythms, which generate a fine Russian dance drive. In the Minuet of the D major we find a rather vocalised kind of melodic line, very attractive, and some fine noble phrasing amidst the virtuosic flair that informs it. He certainly had a flair for dramatic characterisation as the finale of this sonata demonstrates. Soloist Anastasia Khitruk varies her dynamics here to fine effect.

For the Six Old Russian Songs she is joined in the first by the viola and for the remainder by the cello. They’re strongly tinged by folk influence and are simple in melodic outline. As ever Khandoshkin gives vent to his penchant for over-decorative gilding but the ebullience and feeling can’t be denied. I was most taken by the melancholy of the third song Little dove why do you sit so sadly? which brings out the best in the composer, forcing him to limit excessive ornamentation.

The performances are excellent. Khitruk has the measure of this demanding music and plays it with panache.

Jonathan Woolf


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see The Solo Violin Music of Ivan Khandoshkin by Anastasia Khitruk




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