Not only is this a disc of delightful fireworks, but it’s been
cannily selected as well. So let’s address the discography before
we move on to Hanslip and Frantz’s splendid playing. Up to now
if you wanted an all-Bazzini disc your choice was pretty much
restricted to the recording made by Luigi Alberto
Bianchi with pianist Aldo Orvieto on Dynamic CDS258. In
that case you got the Violin Sonata in E minor,
Op. 55, the two Novelettes, Op. 54, the three Morceaux, Op. 53 and the three Morceaux,
Op. 46. So we now have complementary selections of Bazzini’s virtuosic
flights of fancy.
so to the playing, which is terrifically engaging. Calabrese
is an elegant and suave piece, nicely coloured by Hanslip.
The Trois morceaux lyriques followed a few years later.
The first is a lyrical effusion and played with requisite
feeling. The second is a Scherzo and has some Schumannesque
and proto-Elgarian moments reminiscent from his later violin
morceaux; I wouldn’t be surprised if the young Elgar hadn’t
absorbed some of the virtuoso violin repertoire from Bazzini
along the way. The last of the three is a restful lullaby.
d’Arras is, strictly speaking, a piece of virtuoso fluff
but when it’s played with such zesty commitment as here one
can shelve haughty disdain. The left hand pizzicati ring out
and the harmonics are played with precision – and even in
the testing double stops intonation remains pure. The two
Op.12 Morceaux make a good contrasting pair – the first melancholy
and the second light hearted. Most impressive is the evenness
of Hanslip’s semiquavers in the moto perpetuo-type study that
is the first of Deux grandes etudes Op.49. Rather more
substantial is Trois morceaux en forme de sonate Op.44
composed in 1864. The long first movement is written in sonata
form but it’s the second in which we can better gauge both
Bazzini’s ear for lyricism and Hanslip’s highly imaginative
response to the music. She varies her tone, plays with real
poetry and applies the most subtle of portamenti – not to
mention varying her vibrato usage to shade and colour the
line. To end we have the only well known item in the programme,
and inevitably it’s La Ronde des lutins – which is
nearly as fast in this performance as Perlman’s youthful recording
exhumed fairly recently – albeit with slightly less fizz but
a bit more grazioso (Itzhak Perlman rediscovered
- BMG-RCA 82876625172).
I’ve skimmed over
Caspar Frantz’s contribution which is unfair; he’s a first
class partner and adds significantly to the pleasure and real
success of this well recorded recital.