MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing



CD: Crotchet
Download: Classicsonline

Lydia Mordkovitch plays Russian Works for Violin/Viola
Dimitri Borisovich KABALEVSKY (1904-1987)
Improvisation for violin and pianoA (1934) [04:54]
André Mikhaylovich VOLKONSKY (1933–2008)
Sonata for viola and pianoA (1955) [19:47]
Ivan Yevstafyevich KHANDOSHKIN (1747-1804)
Sonata for solo violinA ([26:03]
Sergei Sergeyevich PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Five Pieces from Cinderella for violin and pianoA [18:43]
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
Chanson russe (Russian Song) for violin and pianoB [03:45]
Danse russe (Russian Dance) for violin and pianoB [02:43]
Lydia Mordkovitch (violin/viola); Nicholas Walker (piano)A; Julian Milford (piano)B
rec. 21-23 November 1998 (Stravinsky), 3-4 October 2008 (all other works) at Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk. DDD
CHANDOS CHAN10526 [76:07] 


Experience Classicsonline

For this disc Mordkovich has selected works from two of the biggest names in Russian music combined with three relatively unknown Russians. Four of the scores are for violin and piano; another is for solo violin. She also turns her expertise to a single work for viola and piano. On this recording Mordkovitch plays the ‘Kustendyke’ Stradivarius violin (1699) and a viola by C.F. Landolfi of Milan (1760). 

First up is Kabalevsky’s Improvisation. Completed in 1934 from a similar period to his Symphony No. 2 in C minor the single movement score started out as music to the film Night of St. Petersburg. Then it became a published concert piece with Joseph Szigeti being given the responsibility for editing the violin part. In the Improvisation one is immediately struck by the yearning and pleading tones of the violin part. The piano communicates a serious almost doom-laden tread. At 1.12-2.07 an absorbing conversation of hope ensues. From 2:08 with the violin in its highest registers the emotional intensity of the music gradually increases to an optimistic climax. 

Volkonsky was born to a Russian family during their temporary exile in Geneva. Cast in four movements the Viola Sonata was composed in 1955 the year after he was expelled from the Moscow Conservatoire. This performance is claimed to be the premiere recording. The opening movement is a Largo of stark introspection. In the Allegretto quasi moderato, a restless Scherzo-like movement, one senses sinister undercurrents of fear and dark foreboding. Next comes a Toccata in the manner of Prokofiev. It is exuberant music yet one senses a slight reticence against all-out elation. At times the scene felt suggestive of a callow newcomer to a foreign land who gradually begins to gain confidence. The longest of the movements is the Finale, which is marked A tempo di parte prima and is entitled ‘Apolalerion’ which is translated as “Parting Song” in the booklet notes. Eerie, more shadowy than dark, the affecting music at times feels constrained from moving forward quicker. I could easily envisage the scene of a hostage chained in a cell gradually losing his spirit. 

Born in 1747 Khandoshkin was born around the start of the classical era. He was active at the Russian Imperial Court in St. Petersburg and was for a period in the employment of Catherine the Great. One of Khandoshkin’s six unaccompanied violin sonatas, the Sonata in G minor follows a three movement design. The opening movement Marcia - Maestoso which is an impassioned lament reminded me immediately of J.S. Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin. I was immediately struck by the frivolity of the Allegro assai which is infused with the spirit of the dance. Relentlessly moving forward the soloist hardly has time for a breather. The score closes with an extended Andante con variazioni. Here the mournful Russian-flavoured theme is followed by a set of six variations. Of a rather tedious if meditative quality the overlong variations inhabit a far too similar sound-world. Only at 12:43 does the tempo change to adopt the uplifting tone of a peasant dance. 

The three act ballet Cinderella, Op 87 was composed by Prokofiev in 1940/44 - a commission by the Kirov Ballet. The premiere was given in 1945 at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Prokofiev made various arrangements including transcribing a collection of Ten Pieces from Cinderella for piano. It was from this score that Mikhail Fichtenholz arranged this set of Five Pieces from Cinderella for violin and piano for David Oistrakh. The opening piece is an extended Waltz evocative of a 1930s scene: elegant couples swirling around a dance floor in some European city. Characteristically the composer adds a slightly bitter ingredient to the generally cheerful proceedings. I enjoyed the spiky rhythms in the Gavotte and in the Passepied I was moved by the pent-up anger that borders on the furious. The Winter Fairy is a dialogue between the violin and piano where they cloak themselves in a blanket of warmth and tenderness. With the dance-like rhythms of the final movement, titled Mazurka, I was easily captivated by the appealing and carefree high spirits. I was struck by the stunning violin playing from Mordkovitch. 

The majority of Stravinsky’s scores for violin stem from the 1930s, the time of his friendship with violinist Samuel Dushkin who he was able to consult for advice. The most notable was neo-classical Violin Concerto in D composed and premiered by Dushkin and conducted by the composer in Berlin in 1931. Stravinsky and Dushkin collaborated on several scores, two of which include the Danse Russe and Chanson Russe contained here. The Danse Russe (Russian Dance) is an attractive arrangement. It was made by the duo in 1932 from the original sketches for piano and orchestra that eventually were developed into the ballet Petrushka. Mordkovitch and Milford provide a heavy tread with the themes carrying a distinct Jewish feel. From 1937 the Chanson Russe (Russian Maiden’s Song or Parasha’s Aria) is Stravinsky and Dushkin’s arrangement of an aria from the comic opera Mavra. Having the advantage of a killer-theme this is a wild and colourful peasant dance. 

Lydia Mordkovitch is partnered by Nicholas Walker and Julian Milford (for the two Stravinsky pieces). They are splendid throughout with forthright and characterful playing. These felt like well prepared interpretations, perceptive and showing considerable insight. I must single out Mordkovitch’s intonation and timbre which invite admiration. All the works were recorded in 2008 with the exception of the two Stravinsky scores from ten years previously. The sound quality of the recordings from Potton Hall is one of the finest I have heard on any release this year. These are vividly clear with a pleasing balance. Overall the presentation of this disc is first class. 

An appealing and fascinating mix of rare and popular Russian repertoire for violin/viola and piano.

Michael Cookson



Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.