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Viktor Simon (cello)
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Don Quixote Op. 35 (1896) [42:41]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Tannhäuser - Lied an den Abendstern  (1845 revised 1861) arranged Viktor Simon [3:10]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)#
Sleeping beauty – Pas d’action (1890) [4:35]
Franz von SUPPÉ (1819-1895)
Morgen, Mittag und Abend in Wien; overture (excerpt) [3:45]
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
Symphony No.1 in F minor Op.10 – fragment from the second movement (1925) [3:14]
Symphony No.15 in A major Op.141 – fragment from the fourth movement (1971) [6:33]
Viktor Simon (cello)
I Boguslavsky (viola) and M Chernyakhovsky (violin) - Strauss
Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio/Genady Rozhdestvensky (Strauss; Suppé); Vladimir Fedoseyev.
rec. Moscow 1963 (von Suppe), 1972 (Strauss), 1999 (Tchaikovsky), 2006 (remainder)
RELIEF CR991090 [65:22]
Experience Classicsonline

Viktor Simon was born in Moscow in 1930. He studied with N.I. Yampolsky at the Central Music School but the anti-Semitic climate of the time denied him advancement. It was only thanks to Golovanov, here repeatedly spelt Glovanov in the notes, who invited him to join the Great Symphony Orchestra of USSR Radio and Television that Simon managed to get on at all. After Golovanov he played under Gauk and in time he became principal cellist. Under Fedoseyev the orchestra was renamed the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio. Simon has been with the orchestra for over half a century and now is a good time to salute a worthy musician.
It’s true that he has won renown as a teacher and has made a number of solo recordings – the Bach cello sonatas, those of Beethoven and numerous concertos (on Relief). Connoisseurs of the Russian repertoire will be keen to note that he has recorded the concertos of Miaskovsky and Boris Tchaikovsky. Simon also composes.
The focus of this disc though is Simon the orchestral protagonist and transcriber. The main work is Strauss’s Don Quixote. This is heard in a raw and vitally up-front recording – nothing subtle about it at all. Simon’s tonal qualities and architectural insights can best be gauged here; he takes an expansive view, expressive, with plenty of elastic rubati. His string colleagues are equally fine but the very forward winds and the typically blaring trumpets do tend to add rather too distinctive a gloss on things. It’s also a shame that the piece is tracked in one, though I daresay this is a minor point. Whilst as a body the string section lacks the ultimate in sweep and allure there is certainly tension in a performance such as this.
The smaller pieces offer other rewards. In Simon’s Wagner arrangement, voiced for the section and then for himself as solo cellist we can admire his powerful dynamic control and sensitive legato. Fedoseyev arranged the Tchaikovsky for his solo cellist – fine lyric playing. The Suppé is boldly projected. Then there are two less essential things; snippets from two Shostakovich symphonies, though they do display the keening edge and acute ear for dynamics – especially pp – of which Simon is a master.
The booklet is profusely illustrated though spelling is erratic.
Jonathan Woolf

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