Once again we have a Nadien disc from Cembal d’amour,
a label that acts as Boswell to the violinist’s Dr Johnson.
A number of important inscriptions have emanated from this source,
both studio and, more often, live. I think I must have reviewed
them all. Nadien always has something to say, and whilst his
ethos may be frankly derived from Heifetz, his individuality
is such that he stands as a soloist with his own highly developed
arsenal of expressive tools at his disposal.
It’s most instructive to hear him in Franck’s sonata,
with pianist David Hancock in New York in 1968. They take the
first movement deftly, not lingering overmuch, and allowing
maximal contrast to fall between the movements and not, as can
often happen, for ennui to set in through undifferentiation
of mood, texture or tempo. This is a well characterised performance,
powerfully projected and the finale is a good example of purposeful
ensemble playing. We hear Nadien’s characteristically
tight vibrato, of course, and at one or two points moments where
his phrasing sounds just a touch calculated - but this is refined
and elegant playing indeed.
His Debussy sonata performance - from the same concert? - is
a direct one. The ethos is not especially Gallic - not in the
way Thibaud, or Dubois or Francescatti were in their own ways,
recognisably Gallic, or Franco-Belgian - but it retains independence
on its own terms. One either accepts the oscillatory and fervid
vibrato usage, or one doesn’t. I happen to find the playing
here rather too suave, but that’s a phrasal (and personal)
matter - but certainly the end could be more decisively stated.
The Fauré Berceuse is played quite quickly, but such
is Nadien’s control of rubato that by the end one may
not think so at all. It was certainly habitual with him to play
it briskly, as he did so in his commercial recording of it.
It’s a question more of accenting, than tempo as such.
He also plays Heifetz’s transcription of Rachmaninoff’s
Daisies and though the sound here - from Mohawk Trails in 1970
- is rather less good than the companion pieces, the playing
is first class; note that the pianist here is Abba Bogin. Finally
we have a high octane two fiddle summit meeting of Nadien and
Ruggiero Ricci in the Prokofiev Sonata for two violins. The
contrast between the resinous Ricci tone and the faster vibrato
of Nadien proves highly diverting, the two coiling and twisting
around each other in a fulsome dance.
I’m sure Nadien adherents will want to get to know these