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Souvenirs from Concerts in 1974
Bengt HALLBERG (b.1932)
String Trio (1974) [19:03]
Antonin DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Terzetto Op.74 (1887) [19:03]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-91)
Divertimento No.17 in D major KV 334 (1779) [37:45]
Manoug Parikian (violin – Terzetto, Divertimento), Tore Johnsen (violin),
Bengt Andersson (viola), Jan Neander (violoncello)
with Thorsten Sjögren (double bass), Gunnar Wennberg and Bengt Sundberg (horn - Divertimento)
rec. Live, Grünewald Hall, Stockholm Concert Hall, 7 December 1974 (Trio); Great Hall of The Royal Swedish Academy of Music, Nybrokajen Stockholm, 12 January 1974.

Manoug Parikian used to be a familiar name to me as a student at the Royal Academy of Music, but as a brief trawl of the catalogue will show recordings of him as a soloist or chamber musician are rare indeed. Originally from Armenia, he was principal violin in The Philharmonia Orchestra 1948-1957 at the time when Herbert von Karajan was the principal conductor, and famous names like Dennis Brain and Gareth Morris were among their number. He taught his nephew, the violinist Levon Chilingirian, so fans of the Chilingirian Quartet can trace a pedagogical lineage in which recordings like these play an important part.
The first work on this disc is Bengt Hallberg’s String Trio, dedicated to the Johnsen Trio, who perform it here. Hallberg was born in Göteborg in 1932 and is one of Sweden’s foremost jazz musicians. At the same time as he was playing jazz music, he studied classic piano in his native city and in 1954, he moved to Stockholm where he studied at The Royal College of Music with Lars-Erik Larsson as teacher in composition, as well as the composer and violist Åke Uddén in counterpoint. Hallberg’s own description of the trio is clear and succinct: “[It] consists of four movements. The first, Moderato, is completely based on 6 bars in a melodious phrase in 2/4 time, where one motif is expanded in intervals while at the same time “reduced” in rhythmic (4/5 - 4/4 - 3/4). The second movement, Lento, is rather romantic with a light touch of folk tone. Scherzando, the third movement, contains some blues and pop elements, both rhythmically and melodiously, as an example, the cello solo in the middle of the movement. The last movement, Allegro con fuoco is, as the tempo marking indicates, energetic to its character. Hopefully, it should express the musicians’ zest, as it can be manifested in both traditional and contemporary appearances”. In fact the pop and jazz elements are buried fairly deeply within some serious compositional working-out of ideas, and only occasionally show through like colourful brush strokes. The cello solo does have and its development does have some swinging syncopation, but the effect in a string-trio is as much folk-like as ‘pop’.
The String Trio receives a good live recording, with only an occasional cough and concluding applause to reveal its origins. The second work on this CD has a somewhat narrower stereo image, which is a little strange as the Mozart, taken from the same concert, broadens out once again. Antonin Dvořák’s Terzetto Op 74, from January 1887, is composed for two violins and viola. Dvořák intended the piece as one he could play together with his violinist friends, as he played the viola himself. It has four movements, Introduzione, that directly moves into Larghetto, Scherzo and the concluding Tema con variazioni. The influence of Schubert comes through in some of the more tender lyricism in this music which, combined with the Czech-Slav tones and rhythms which also appear in the work of his friend Smetana, make for an attractive formula.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s substantial Divertimento No 17 in D major, KV 334 was the last of his works with this title. Mozart’s life always seems to be plagued with difficulties, but he was very productive during 1779, and works like the Sinfonia Concertante in E flat major, KV 364 for violin, viola and orchestra also come from this period. The character of the piece is filled with poise and grace, with minuets that bring some light relief from the more ‘serious’ movements with their ländler character. The first violin part is largely concertante, and provides a good vehicle for Parikian’s artful and stylish playing. The ensemble is very good as well, and, one or two boomy moments from the bass aside, the recording is fresh and deep.

Given the time from which these recordings come, potential purchasers need have few fears about compromise in terms of sonics or performance. The Terzetto sounds a little thin, but this is partly the nature of its instrumentation. Hallberg’s composition is appealingly direct and unpretentious, and the musicians’ stylistic approach to Mozart is natural and unmannered. Manoug Parikian’s solo violin in the Divertimento is the star of the show, with a sweet tone, needle-sharp intonation, a tight vibrato which doesn’t draw attention to itself, and the concerto-like command which is a requirement of this music. We can be grateful to ‘Altviol’ that students, historians and lovers of fine chamber music can now add these live recordings to their archives – though the dust is unlikely to be allowed to settle on them for long.

Dominy Clements

Other releases in this series
Volume 1 Souvenirs from Gothenburg
Volume 2 Souvenirs from West Sweden



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