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Reminiscences - Yuri Bashmet
Marin MARAIS Suite in D Minor [11:50]
Jan Jiri BENDA Grave [3.32]
Johannes BRAHMS Scherzo 'F.A.E.' Sonata [5.51]; Berceuse (Wiegenlied) [1.56]
Igor STRAVINSKY Chanson Russe from Mavra [4.08]
Sergei PROKOFIEV Scene of Farewell and Juliet's death from Romeo and Juliet [7.32]
Marin MARAIS Five Old French Dances [10:34]
Maurice RAVEL Pavane [6.22]
Erik SATIE Gymnopedie no. 1 [3.11]
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU La villageoise [0.47]
Yuri Bashmet (viola)
Mikhail Muntyan (piano)
rec. 2007.

Experience Classicsonline

This collection coheres around Yuri Bashmet's preference for these pieces as concert favourites and recital encores.

The seven movement Marais suite instantly commands your attention through Bashmet's tender regard for dynamics including many at whisper level. In this he is aided by Flier pupil and stalwart of many a Melodiya LP Mikhail Muntyan.

Benda's Grave from a Violin Concerto in G cleaves to the romantic future rather than his baroque present. The music in fact recalls a Nino Rota film score. The Brahms FAE scherzo is strenuous and stormy. It sounds more tempestuous in this viola transcription than in its original violin garb. We return to some astonishingly quiet playing just this side of silence for Brahms' Wiegenlied. It is played as if actually being used for its intended purpose - a whisper, a sigh, a breath just this side of silence.

Stravinsky's Chanson Russe (aka Parasha's aria from Mavra) appears in a transcription by Samuel Dushkin - he of Stravinsky Violin Concerto fame. It is a gentle cantabile piece with some clever pointing (1:38).

The Prokofiev Scene of Farewell and Juliet's Death is from Romeo and Juliet in a transcription by Vadim Borisovsky (1902-1972) of the Beethoven Quartet and, as it happens, one of Bashmet's teachers. This is silvery and seamless playing imbued with touching humanity. More Marais is on offer in the form of the nicely rounded Five Old French Dances. These are cheery but not until we get to the wondrously breathy La Musette that we reap anything like the rewards to be gained from the D minor suite. Borisovsky - father of modern Russian viola playing - is again the arranger in the case of Ravel's Pavane. This is another triumph of the art in a completely sincere and unshowy way. It puts the two players' great artistry at the service of fragile beauty - of chamoix smoothness reaching towards misty-eyed enchantment. We are not told who the transcriber of the Gymnopédie No. 1 is but again this is vulnerable, silky and diaphanous stuff played with the delicate touch of a master. Rameau's La Villageoise is another piece of cheery rusticry but over and done with in well less than a minute. Clever.

Rob Barnett




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