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Modern Times
Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937)
King Roger; Roxanna’s Song (1926) transcribed Paweł Kochanski [5:51]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
La plus que lente (1910) transcribed Léon Roques [4:46]
Valse romantique (1890) arranged Alexandre Roelens [3:46]
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)
Polichinelle [1:47]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Morceaux; Sentimental Waltz Op.51 No.6 (1882) [2:38]
Ede POLDINI (1869-1957)
Marionettes; Poupée valsante arranged Fritz Kreisler [2:40]
Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957)
Der Tot Stadt; Tanzlied des Pierrot (1920) arranged Fritz Kreisler [4:00]
Charlie CHAPLIN (1899-1977)
Modern Times [3:31]
Cécile CHAMINADE (1857-1944)
Sérénade espagnole Op.150 arranged Fritz Kreisler [2:35]
Joaquín TURINA (1882-1949)
La oración del torero, Op.34 (1925) arranged Jascha Heifetz [8:27]
Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994)
Lullaby for Anne-Sophie [3:06]
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
Prelude Op.34 No.15 (1932-33) arranged Dmitri Tsiganov [1:04]
Franz LÉHAR (1870-1948)
Frasquita; Serenade (1922) transcribed Fritz Kreisler [2:35]
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
It’s Peaceful Here, Op.21 No.7 arranged Jascha Heifetz [1:52]
Reinhold GLI ÈRE (1875-1956)
Easy Pieces; Waltz Op.45 No.2 (1909) [1:38]
Stephen FOSTER (1826-1864)
Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair (1854) arranged Jascha Heifetz [3:30]
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
Porgy and Bess; Bess, You Is My Woman Now (1935) arranged Jascha Heifetz [3:56]
Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860-1909)
Canción Catalan arranged Samuel Dushkin [4:09]
Maria Ołdak (violin)
James Baillieu (piano)
rec. March 2013, Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall
CD ACCORD ACD 193-2 [63:10]

Polish violinist Maria Ołdakand and South African pianist James Baillieu collaborate on an hour’s plus recital. It wears a generally old-fashioned look reminiscent of the days of the great fiddlers of yore. Mostly it’s a matter of repertoire, buttressed by the dazzling names of the arrangers and transcribers, headed by Heifetz and Kreisler but also including Kochanski and Dushkin. We can be assured then of some excellent transcriptions as well as some works originally written for these forces.
Throughout, ensemble is excellent; these two musicians know each other well and have formed a solid partnership. Temperature remains on the cool side, and we find that Maria Ołdak’s aesthetic is precise, clean, technically accomplished, and somewhat small-scaled. Her approach to Szymanowski is elegant but rather reserved; sample Henri Temianka’s old Parlophone 78, made in the year Szymanowski died, for some coruscatingly committed, emotive playing. Her Debussy - La plus que lente in the Heifetz arrangement - and Valse romantique are again sensitively shaped and largely non-interventionist. Kreisler’s Polichinelle is always charming to hear though Ołdak rather lacks that old master Campoli’s rhythmic caprice and tonal allure; she sounds rather dogged in comparison.
Kreisler arranged Ede Poldini’s Poupée valsante and he recorded it, as did Jacques Thibaud and much later on Perlman, who has recorded several of the pieces in this recital. He, too, has a real affection for the good old ones. What someone like Kreisler could do was to speed elegantly through the B section generating maximum contrast and intoxicating drama; what Thibaud could do was vest it with sensual tone. It’s difficult for today’s players even to begin to approach these musicians’ magnetism. But Ołdak has the imagination to select fine repertoire, such as Korngold’s Tanzlied des Pierrot from Der Tod Stadt and she plays it with affection. It was bold of her to take on the Turina in this stripped-back Heifetz arrangement and she largely succeeds. She nods towards the contemporary with the Lutosławski and shows a graceful attention to discreet portamenti in the Lehár. In addition she does well to avoid the most popular of the Glière Easy Pieces; thus she plays not the Romance but the Waltz. She moves onto prime Heifetz territory with Jeannie and Gershwin; Heifetz’s fervid intensity is rejected in favour of relaxed introspection. One feels here a mismatch, and the result is emotionally neutral. She seems afraid to let go.
So this is an Old School recital, intelligently compiled, thoughtfully performed, sensibly engineered as regards balance, but rather lacking a personal stamp.
Jonathan Woolf