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Othmar SCHOECK (1886-1957)
Sonata for Violin and Piano in D major, WoO 22 (1905) [16:38]
Sonata for Violin and Piano in D major, Op. 16 (1909) [16:34]
Sonata for Violin and Piano in E major, Op. 46 (1931) [16:32]
Ursula Bagdasarjanz (violin); Gisela Schoeck (piano)
rec. 1961, Swiss Radio.
GALLO CD 1249 [49:44]
Othmar SCHOECK (1886-1957)
Concerto for Violin in B flat major, Op. 21 "Quasi una fantasia" (1911-1912) [35:13]
Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936)
Concerto for Violin in A minor, Op. 82 (1904) [21:27]
Ursula Bagdasarjanz (violin)
Swiss Italian Orchestra/Francesco D'Avalos; Leopoldo Casella
rec. 1970; 1960
GALLO CD 1250 [56:40]

Here are volumes 2 and 3 of Gallo’s series of historic analogue recordings by the little-sung Swiss violinist Ursula Bagdasarjanz.
Ursula Bagdasarjanz was born in Winterthur, Switzerland in 1934, to a mother, Margrit Weiss, who was herself an outstanding violinist. Her father, Samuel Bagdasarjanz, was of Armenian and Swiss extraction, born in Romania, whence his family emigrated to Switzerland. Her teachers included Aida Stucki in Winterthur, Marcel Reynal at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris and Sándor Végh in Basel. To this she added master-classes with Joseph Calvet in Paris and Max Rostal in Bern. Her playing has been said to be much influenced by the Carl Flesch method. In 1944, at the age of ten, Ursula gave her first concert (Beethoven Romance in F major). She has toured Europe and beyond. Such a pity that she has not recorded more extensively, particularly in cantabile concertos such as those by Ivanov and the de Boeck. 

The sonatas were recorded in 1961 by Swiss Radio just four years after Schoeck's death. It is glorious to have these works played with such searching, scalpel-probing, raw passion by Bagdasarjanz. To this one adds the authority of Schoeck's daughter, Gisela as the pianist. Each note is imbued with a driving carnality. The op. 22 work Variationensonate has the theme and all of the variations each accorded their own track. The op. 16 Sonata is about the same length as that of the op. 46: 16-plus minutes. These works wear their deeply-steeped romantic credentials with pride yet are very much to the point and know their optimum length in relation to the musical ideas deployed. The two earliest sonatas sometimes recall the great English violin sonatas of the post Great War period - Isaacs, Dunhill, Bax and Ireland. Schoeck is ever the poignant singer with his cantabile intensity sometimes inhabiting the same territory as Delius in his sonatas. That's certainly true of the piled-high emotions of the opp. 16 and 22 works. The op. 46 Sonata is elliptically expressed yet with a more expressionist edge to the ideas and their expression. The central movement has eldritch witchery about it. Zgraggen on Claves (review review) is even more passionate while Barrett on Guild sounds warmer but is more tight-lipped.
Bagdasarjanz broadcast the Stefi Geyer-inspired Schoeck Violin Concerto for Swiss Radio in 1970 and the Glazunov concerto in 1960. They make complementary companions and Bagdasarjanz is in lyrical form. In so doing she reminds us of the Schoeck concerto's Elgarian songfulness. It's a most beautiful work and while one can hear Geyer in the concerto on Jecklin Disco this is riper in tone and the apex of romance. Bagdasarjanz’s playing reminded me of Campoli. I wonder if she ever performed the Elgar concerto - it would have suited her to a tee. There is some very slight channel damage to the original tapes but it is minor. If you love the Mendelssohn and the Korngold then this is a work you should hear and this version needs to be heard by all Schoeck devotees alongside the now-rare Geyer CD; likewise the rather special - if short-playing - sonatas disc. We should not forget completely the rather fierce sounding Mace LP with the relentless Ulrick Lehman in the concerto. That rare vinyl 33 (MCM 9047) was the vehicle for my first encounter with the Schoeck concerto. It was coupled with the Horn Concerto in which the soloist was Jozef Brejza. Time that Forgotten Records found a good copy of that and reissued it on CD. You should also note the very natural recording by the smoother yet passionate Betina Boller on Claves.
The Glazunov is in even better, warmer sound. The conductor is Leopold Casella. This can be compared with the niche-famous Francesco d'Avalos for the Schoeck taken down long before his much sought after recordings on the defunct Edelweis label. I have loved the Glazunov ever since discovering it through the miraculous Josef Sivo version which can still be heard on HDTT. The Bagdasarjanz is a connoisseur's version, taken at a less hectic pace than usual. It turns out to do the music a considerable favour.

You must not expect great things of the audio on the concertos disc. It is good-to-passable radio broadcast quality. Once reconciled to that there is no problem and the door is open to a very fine Glazunov and a satisfying Schoeck.
These two discs are part of a sequence of four Gallo CDs featuring Bagdasarjanz (CD1248-1251).
Violin buffs should remember this grandly stylish violinist from these, her heyday recordings.
Bagdasarjanz in her Schoeck heyday - still much to be learnt and enjoyed from this music-making.  

Rob Barnett

Other Bagdasarjanz CDs from Gallo
Volume 1
Johann Sebastian Bach: Sonata in a-moll for violin solo.
Pietro Nardini: Sonata in D-Dur for violin und piano.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Sonata in B-Dur KV 378 for violin und piano.
Béla Bartok: First rhapsody for violin und piano.
Ursula Bagdasarjanz (violin), Luciano Sgrizzi and Fernande Kaeser (piano).

Volume 4 "Sept poésies pour Violon et Piano"

Ursula Bagdasarjanz: Berceuse, Dracula, Gipsy-Romance, Caprice, Joie de vivre, Rêverie, Introduction et petite Valse des Alpes.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: 1756-1791, Sonata in B-Dur KV 378 for violin und piano. 1. Allegro moderato.
Georg Friedrich Händel: 1685-1759, Sonata in F-Dur for violin und piano.
Pietro Nardini: Sonata in D-Dur for violin und piano. 1. Adagio.
Niccoló Paganini: 1782-1840, Sonata No. 12 Op.3 for violin und piano.
Melanie Di Cristino (violin), Raluca Stirbat (piano), Ursula Bagdasarjanz (violin). VDE-GALLO (GALLO CD 1251)