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Violin My Love: Hommage a Váša Príhoda
Jenö HUBAY (1858-1937)
Scčne de la csárda No.4 Hejre Kati Op.32 No.4 [5:34]
Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
Salut d’amour Op.12 (1888) arr. Váša Príhoda [3:03]
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Rosenkavalier: Waltzes (1911) arr. Váša Príhoda (1928) [7:16]
Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943)
Vocalise [5:17]
Pablo de SARASATE (1844-1908)
Romanza Andaluza Op.22 (1879) [4:25]
Franz DRDLA (1868-1944)
Souvenir in D major (1904) [3:12]
Ede POLDINI (1869-1957)
Poupée valsante arr. Fritz Kreisler (1924) [2:16]
Antonín DVORÁK (1841-1904)
Humoresque No.7 Op.101 B187 (1894) arr. August Wilhelmj (1845-1908) [3:09]
Violin Sonatina in G major Op.100 B183 (1893) [18:47]
Symphony No.9 in E Op.95 From the New World Op.95 B178 – Melody from the Largo (1893) arr. Váša Príhoda [5:01]
Tomáš Vinklát (violin)
Martin Fila (piano)
rec. April 2011, Martinu Hall, Liechtenstein Palace, Academy of Performing Arts, Prague
ARCO DIVA UP 0153 - 2131 [59:10]

Experience Classicsonline

Czech violinist Tomáš Vinklát dedicates his disc to a great compatriot and predecessor, Váša Príhoda (1900-60), the dashing virtuoso who flourished in the pre-war years, faltered amidst accusations of wartime fraternisation with the Germans, but recovered in time for triumphant visits back to Prague. Fortunately he made many recordings on 78, a number for Cetra in Italy on LP, which I have reviewed here, and a tranche of largely German radio broadcasts have survived and been released.
This hour-long recital isn’t slavish in its homage. Príhoda didn’t record everything here, though he did record almost everything. We can hear from the start that Vinklát is not interested in aping Príhoda’s very particular style, and nor should he be. No Príhoda studio performance of Hubay’s Hejre Kati exists, so far as I’m aware, and Hubay, who made recordings, didn’t set it down either. Vinklát, as he does throughout, proves a clean-limbed, somewhat arms-length exponent. Elgar’s Salut d’amour chugs away quite happily, making one wonder why it’s credited to a Príhoda arrangement. Then we hear why: double-stops, an interpolated cadential passage, changed note values and register alteration too. The ethos is now ‘School of Raff’s Cavatina’. Double-stopping his way through a piece was a staple for the Czech fiddler who did the same sort of thing in his arrangement of Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen. Príhoda recorded Salut d’amour twice for Polydor, armed with resplendent portamenti and ripe rubati at a slower tempo than Tomáš Vinklát and Martin Fila. Príhoda’s double-stops are remarkably gulped and expressive.
Príhoda’s most famous arrangement was of the Rosenkavalier Waltzes, and it’s probably the one piece of his editorial work to have survived. Vinklát had to play it, naturally, and does so attractively but the knowing, showy rubatos of the original performer and his slyly capricious phrasing are not part of the younger man’s arsenal. Sarasate wrote his Romanza Andaluza for the Moravian violinist Wilma Norman-Neruda (1838-1911), perhaps better known as Lady Halle. This decent performance lacks the tonal vitality of Príhoda’s mid-30s disc, and I don’t feel that Fila is terribly interested in the piano part. He reminds me of the words of the critic who once said of a Gerald Moore record that he sounded as if he were playing with a cigarette dangling out of the side of his mouth.
Dvorák is the composer most closely associated with Príhoda. His studio recording of the Concerto is still one of the greatest ever committed to disc, but listening to his surviving examples of both the Concerto and the Sonatina, which Vinklát plays, it’s valuable to note just how eventfully changeable could be the interpretations. Live, post-war, he could really speed up, whether through nerves or a kind of showing-off I’m not quite sure. He certainly speeded up in the first movement of the Sonatina in his last 1956 Prague Spring appearance which was fortunately taped. In his studio reading he’s a lot more reserved in the first movement. Vinklát and Fila are not quite ‘risoluto’ enough but they are tasteful exponents if rather expressively neutral ones. Finally, we don’t hear much of Príhoda’s arrangement of the slow movement of the New World Symphony. Here it is for new generations.
The recording is just a touch expansive for my tastes. This is a pleasing disc, though I wish the performers had been more expressively engaged.
Jonathan Woolf

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