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Nikolai ROSLAVETS (1881-1944)
Violin Concerto No. 1 (1925) [38:32]
Violin Concerto No. 2 (1936) [19:07]
Alina Ibragimova (violin)
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Ilan Volkov
rec. City Hall, Glasgow, 9-10 January 2008. DDD
HYPERION CDA67637 [57:41]
Experience Classicsonline

Two concertos separated by almost a dozen years and the later one half the length of the first.
Roslavets belongs with the avant-garde of Russia's 1920s alongside such luminaries as Lourié and Mossolov. He studied at the Moscow Conservatoire with Vassilenko and Ippolitov-Ivanov. In 1927 he celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Revolution in a concert which included his cantata October and Shostakovich’s Second Symphony and Mossolov's Iron Foundry. The backlash had to come. Roslavets’ music had continued its exclusive trajectory finding condemnation with the followers of socialist realism. He was condemned to ‘the Sticks’ in Tashkent for some years before a rapprochement and some compromise took him back to Moscow albeit in musically menial tasks.
The First Violin Concerto by the Russian futurist Roslavets is a big and spiritedly rhapsodic piece. The music proceeds like a match between Scriabin and pre-Great War Prokofiev. There is less of the Scriabin orchestral smear but his incense-heavy ecstatic mood is certainly referenced. There is something also of Szymanowski's mystical surrealism too. The Concerto ends with a raging clamorous grating virtuosity. Ibragimova and Volkov give a performance that can only be described as possessed. The Concerto is an epic work that inspired the support of Edison Denisov.
The Second Violin Concerto was written shortly after the Chamber Symphony and dates from the composer's return to Moscow. There is less incense now and a more direct speaking manner. The textures are increasingly transparent and the manner is more popular but not shallow. The violin line is still capricious. The piano was a presence in the First Concerto; it can also be heard here where its voice reminds the listener of the Korngold concerto. This work smiles romantically rather like a slightly gritty variant of the Delius Violin Concerto. The music is quite volatile and is ready to burst into flames at the flick of a bow. This is a romantic work with subtle nuances in place but now less Szymanowski than Korngold. Even that approximation hits a false note for Roslavets makes use of a rhapsodic singing palette juxtaposed with dark warnings buried deep in the score. The populist element reasserts its presence in the finale alongside a husky viola-accented edging. 
Calum Macdonald provides the fascinating liner-notes and reminds us of Hyperion's other Roslavets disc which features the Chamber Symphony and In the hours of the new moon - also from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Volkov (CDA67484).
Rob Barnett


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