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Igor Alexandrovich FROLOV (b.1937)
Etude no.1 [0:43]
Spanish Fantasy [4:10]
Scherzo-Souvenir [2:07]
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]
Nicolas Koeckert (violin)
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]
Experience Classicsonline


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 Repin.
 
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?
 
Rob Maynard
 



 


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