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Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

 

Volume V
Dimtri SHOSTAKOVICH 1906-1975)

Violin Concerto No. 1 in a minor, Op. 77 (1948) Nocturne: Moderato [11:32] Scherzo: Allegro [5:46] Passacaglia: Andante-Cadenza [12:17] Burlesque: Allegro con brio [4:47]
Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978)

Violin Concerto in D minor (1940)
Allegro con fermezza [13:43] Andante sostenuto [11:32] Allegro vivace [9:09]
USSR State Radio Symphony Orchestra/Alexander Gauk (Shostakovich)
USSR State Radio Symphony Orchestra/Aram Khachaturian (Khachaturian)
rec. Moscow 1956
ARTEK AR 0031-2 [68:49]

 

The Art of Yulian Sitkovetsky
Volume I
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Partita No. 2 for Violin solo in D minor, BWV 1004
Allemande [6:22] Courante [2:51] Sarabande [4:47] Gigue [4:18] Chaconne [15:20]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Sonata No. 26 for Piano and Violin in B flat major, KV 378 (KV 317d) (1779) Allegro moderato [9:24] Andantino sostenuto e catabile [7:17] Rondeau. Allegro [4:08]
Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770)

Sonata for Violin and Piano in G minor, "Il Trillo del Diavolo" -arranged by Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962)
Larghetto [3:04] Allegro energico [2:51] Grave. Allegro assai [8:43]
Niccolo PAGANINI (1782-1840)

Third movement. (Ronde a la clochette) from Concerto No.2 for Violin and Orchestra in B minor, op. 7 (1826) [5:54]
Bella Davidovich (piano) Mozart and Tartini
Vladimir Yampolsky (piano) - Paganini
rec. Moscow 1950-55
ARTEK AR 0026-2 [75:41]
Volume II
Henri VIEUXTEMPS (1820-1881)

Suite for Violin and Piano in D major, op. 43
Prelude [5:07] Menuet [3:47] Air [4:22] Gavotte [5:15]
Henryk WIENIAWSKI (1835-1880)

Etude-caprice "La Cadenza" for Violin solo in F minor from "L'Ecole moderne", op. 10 No. 7 [4:29]
Polonaise brillante No.1 for Violin and Piano in D major, op.4 (1852) [5:17]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)

Concerto No. 1 for Violin and Orchestra (Conzertstuck) in A major, op. 20 (1863) – arranged T. Spiering [13:04]
Etude en forme de valse in D flat major, op. 52 No. 6 arranged – Eugène YSAŸE (1858-1931) [7:13]
Eugène YSAŸE (1858-1931)

Sonata No. 6 for Violin solo in E major, op. 27 No. 6 (1924) [6:36]
Pablo de SARASATE (1844-1908)

Malagueña, op. 21 No. 1 from "Danzas españolas" (1875) [4:47]
Habanera, op. 21 No. 2 from "Danzas españolas" (1878-82) [3:59]
Moritz MOSZKOWSKI (1854-1925)

Guitarre, op. 45 No. 2 arranged by Pablo de SARASATE (1844-1908) [3:10]
Bella Davidovich (piano) – Vieuxtemps, Sarasate
Nahum Walter (piano) Wieniawski Polonaise
Andrey Mitnik (piano) Saint-Saëns Concerto
Vladimir Yampolsky (piano) remainder
rec. Moscow 1948-55
ARTEK AR 0027-2 [67:49]
Volume III
Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936)

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in A minor, op. 82 (1904) Moderato [4:33]
Andante [3:28] Tempo I [7:04] Allegro [5:28]

Sergei LYAPUNOV (1859-1924)

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D minor, op. 61 Allegro appassionato [6:38] Adagio [5:05] Tempo I [9:22]
A LEHMAN (1915-)

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra
Allegro [14:25] Andantino [5:16] Allegro vivo [7:01]
Moscow Symphony Orchestra/Kirill Kondrashin (Glazunov)
USSR State Radio Symphony Orchestra/Sergey Gorchakov (Lyapunov)
The Large USSR State Radio Symphony Orchestra/Alexey Kovalev (Lehman)
rec.1948-52
ARTEK AR 0028-2 [68:45]
Volume IV
Nicolo PAGANINI (1782-1840)

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 2 in B minor, Op. 7 (1826)
Allegro maestoso [16:00] Adagio [6:57]
La Campanella, Ronde a la chlochette. Allegro moderato [7:55]
Le Streghe, variations on a theme from F.K. Sussmayr's opera "Il Noce di Benvenuto", Op. 8 arranged by Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962) [11:26]
Sonata a preghiera "Moses Fantasia" (Introduction and Variations on the aria "Dal tuo stellato soglio" from G. Rossini’s opera "Mose in Egitto"), Op. 24 [7:16)
Moto perpetuo (Allegro di concert) in C major, Op. 11 [3:09]
Karol LIPINSKI (1790-1861)

Caprice for Violin solo in D major, Op. 29 No. 3 [3:30]
Heinrich Wilhelm ERNST (1814-1865)

Variations on The last rose of summer (Etude No. 6 in G major for Violin solo
from "Mehrstimmige Studien") [10:27]
Antonio BAZZINI (1818-1897)

La Ronde de lutins, scherzo fantastique for Violin and Piano, Op. 25 [5:35]
USSR State Radio Symphony Orchestra/Mark Pavermann
Bella Davidovich (piano)
rec. Moscow 1951-55
ARTEK AR 0030-2 [72:18]

 

Much of this material was once available on SYD Records in the mid-1990s but if you blinked you missed it. Aulos has released its own Sitkovetsky volume, the promised first in an edition that has yet to appear. Given the existence of this new Artek five disc set, all available singly, there’s little likelihood, or indeed necessity for Aulos to continue -review. There is duplication between that single Aulos disc and Artek in all except the Sibelius Concerto – which may yet appear in this new series if more volumes are to be forthcoming.

This new survey bears the name of Dmitry Sitkovetsky as co-producer. Special thanks are offered to his mother and Yulian’s widow, Bella Davidovich, as well as Vitaly and Larissa Sitkovetsky and Susan Roberts. This carries with it the imprimatur of the family. The transfers have been carried out with care and skill, though none was the subtlest examples of Soviet recording techniques, even for the time. Most are very blowsy and close up to the microphone. Don’t look for - or expect - any sophistication from the 1950s set-ups.

Collectors however will be interested in the performances of the tragically short-lived Sitkovetsky. Volume 1 gives us his Tartini Devil’s Trill where we find Sitkovetsky the thorough going Romantic. His sound can be raw, gutsy and masculine and intensely exciting. He tends to preen in the double stops, and is fatally metrical in Kreisler’s cadenza. He also lacks his older compatriot David Oistrakh’s balancing of classicist restraint and tensile projection. The Bach sonata is digitally impressive but rather deliberate and again afflicted with a certain metronomic approach. Lower strings are sometimes slow to sound. In the Chaconne he indulges extremes of dynamics and is highly subjectivist in approach. Phrasing however remains dull and accelerandi sound unnatural. A disappointing performance. The Mozart sonata is better by far. He’s occasionally trenchant and fully lyrical; there’s plenty of emotive vibrato and warmly phrased generosity in the slow movement, though he overindulges accompanying figures to a damaging degree.

Volume II is something of a violinistic playground. Vieuxtemps’s baroque leaning opus is discharged with gallantry and vigour, though Sitkovetsky does sometimes slide up under the note. Saint-Saëns’s Concerto, the Konzertstuck, in the Spiering arrangement is rather a brittle performance and heavy handed despite the advantage of Kogan’s accompanist Mitnik. Ysaÿe’s Sixth solo sonata is quite fast and just a little flat dramatically. The Sarasate Habanera is full of rich and explicit voicings from husky to whistling and well-characterised, though very over-emoted in places. The recording of the Moszkowski is rather hollow but Sitkovetsky plays it with lissom articulation.

The close up perspective rather robs the otherwise excitingly played Glazunov Concerto of a certain aristocracy of utterance. But the throaty tone convinces and there’s plenty of raw succulence here, albeit occasionally rather blowsy lower string work in the cadenza. It’s neither as quick or as elevated as Milstein’s traversals. The Lyapunov Concerto is written in fully romantic-rhapsodic style. The recording is typical Soviet era vintage; trumpets to shrivel your insides, the hairs of Sitkovetsky’s bow just inside your ear canal. But how gorgeously he caresses the second subject of the first movement and how much beauty he finds throughout. He takes a high tensile approach to the slow movement which because of it – and the recording – can sound somewhat over vibrated. There’s certainly no floating of tone here, a la Franco-Belgian players. Still, one can but admire his stupendously commanding technique in the ripely overlong cadenza.

Lehman’s Concerto is couched in Soviet folkloric style. It sounds like it was written in the late 1940s – this recording was made in 1951. There are touches of what sounds to British ears like Vaughan Williams along the way – plenty of folk themes and sweetness, lightly orchestrated with a string gauze of great transparency and warmth. The finale lets things down, a rather predictable vivo of vacuous excitement with a whopping great edit or join at 4.04. Magnetically played though.

Paganini’s First Concerto suits Sitkovetsky’s virtuoso status and silvery tone in the higher positions. Though he’s so far forward in the balance, which makes the orchestral contribution somewhat tenuous, we can that much better listen to his coruscating gymnastics and effortless projection. His finale is exceptional. The Moses Fantasia bears witness to his high standing as a Paganinian – and with lashings of husky tone he displays remarkable technical address allied to exciting colouristic shading. He manages the Ernst with cavalier bravado and tosses off the Bazzini with nonchalance if not quite, say, Příhoda or Perlman’s blistering brilliance.

The final disc unearths Shostakovich and Khachaturian concertos, both highly auspicious additions to the discography. In the latter, with the composer conducting, he is grittier and with a less intensely focused core sound than his contemporary Kogan, who was also recorded in this work with the composer conducting, but five years earlier (see Kogan’s Brilliant Classics ten disc box). It’s instructive to hear the differences – how Sitkovetsky gives us a wispy gauze of sound in the slow movement but ultimately lacks Kogan’s subtle shadings across all four strings as well as his eloquence and control. Kogan is notably more relaxed in the opening movement as well.

Shostakovich No.1 provides another study in contrasts. Kogan is invariably, in all his performances, more malleable in terms of tempo and colour than Sitkovetsky. He’s also decidedly quicker in the great Passacaglia, quicker even than Sitkovetsky – these in the days before this movement became stretched to ever more giant proportions. Sitkovetsky has Gauk on the platform and he is suitably gaunt and powerful if a bit ragged at times. Kogan is a steelier presence in this work, Sitkovetsky more openly expressive.

This then is the province of the violin collector. With unbalanced recordings and unvarnished sound the casual listener will want to look elsewhere. That much is obvious. But Sitkovetsky admirers, of whom there are a good number, will want to snap these up because his discs have, historically speaking, seldom stayed around very long. His was a wonderful, comet-like talent. My reservations are there to alert listeners who may not know just what sort of a player he was.

Jonathan Woolf

 


 



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