Igor Alexandrovich FROLOV (b.1937)
Etude no.1 [0:43]
Spanish Fantasy [4:10]
Piece in Blues Style [5:14]
Divertissement (1979) [3:56]
Duet in Old Style [4:06]
Romance (1989) [2:45]
Concert Fantasy on themes from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess,
op.19 (1991) [14:12] Don MEYER, Elise BRETTON and Sherman EDWARDS (1919-1981)
For Heaven’s Sake (arr. Konstantin Dyubenko) [3:48] Herminio DE ALMEIDA (b.1960?)
Love Song (arr. I. Frolov) [4:10]
Melody (arr. I. Frolov) [4:19] Jerome KERN (1884-1945) (arr. I. Frolov)
Dym (Smoke gets in your Eyes) (1933) [6:29] Scott JOPLIN (1867-1917)
The Easy Winners – ragtime (1901) (arr. I. Frolov) [3:42] Serge GAIS
Swedish Farewell Valse (arr. I. Frolov) [2:45]
Rudolf Joachim Koeckert (violin)
Kristina Miller (piano)
rec. Studio 1, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Munich, Germany, 14-16
November 2006 (all tracks except Concert Fantasy on
Themes from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess); Studio 1, Bayerischer
Rundfunk, Munich, Germany, 4 November 2005 (Concert
Fantasy on Themes from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess) NAXOS 8.570583 [62:28]
A special delight of RCA’s 1994 46-volume The
Heifetz Collection (complete with a particularly
ugly “commemorative medal”!) was volume 40 – “Gershwin
and Encores”. It was a pleasure to listen to such pieces
as Leopold Godowsky’s Alt Wien or William Kroll’s Banjo
and Fiddle and it was just about possible to imagine
the notoriously poker-faced “violinist of the century” cracking
a small smile. On that basis, that Heifetz himself would
certainly have enjoyed performing some of the pieces
on this new Naxos disc.
Igor Alexandrovich Frolov – son of a violinist
father and a pianist mother – has had absolutely no formal
training in composition. He did not produce his first work
until after the age of 50. The present works are nevertheless
invariably well crafted and engaging and they have attracted
the interest of, among others, Maxim Vengerov and Vadim
Clearly influenced by the idioms of the
jazz music that was banned during his period as a Moscow
Conservatory student, Frolov not only writes original pieces
but arranges - and even adds substantial new sections to
- those of others. These range from Jerome Kern and Scott
Joplin to Herminio de Almeida and Serge Gais - a big name,
so the booklet notes inform us, in Sweden.
I suspect that there is little here that
merits the status of more than a highly attractive encore.
I would however wish to give a special mention to the arrangement
of the Kern standard Smoke gets in your Eyes which
is particularly effectively done.
Frolov’s music could hardly have more persuasive
advocates than these. We start with Rudolf Joachim Koeckert,
sometime Leader of the Bavarian Radio Symphony orchestra.
Then there is prize-winning international soloist Nicholas
Koeckert (whose previous Naxos recording of Kreisler miniatures
was a “Recording of the Month” for The Strad magazine.
The pianist is Kristina Miller – billed thus on the booklet
cover but reincarnated inside as Kristina Miller-Koeckert.
As one might expect from their common surnames, they have
a natural empathy not only with Frolov’s style but with
each other as performers. The very last description that
one would give to their approach is poker-faced:
indeed, this is a disc that proves conclusively that it
is possible to hear smiling faces!
While this may not be a disc of earth-shattering
musical importance, it does showcase some charismatic performers
who not only enjoy themselves but are likely to share that
enjoyment with their listeners. And in these difficult
times – and for such a modest financial outlay – who can
possibly argue with that?
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