My Dusty Gramophone
Dunja Lavrova (violin)
Konstantin Lapshin (piano)
rec. 2014, Schloss Britz, Berlin
SOLO MUSICA SM216 [64:22]

Dunja Lavrova studied in St Petersburg, later moving to the Menuhin School in England on a full scholarship. She won the Royal College of Music Tagore Gold Medal and has performed widely as a soloist. Fellow Russian Konstantin Lapshin followed a similar route to Lavrova. He began studies in Moscow, then pursued them at the RCM, was a serial prize-winner at international competitions, and is now a busy soloist himself.

The focus of the recital however is Lavrova’s and the title explained by the violin LPs owned by her parents, to which she listened as a child. They still mean a lot to her, it would seem, though presumably she now favours CDs or downloads.

Heifetz looms large as an arranger in this recital though his presence is not overwhelming. The music selected makes for a pleasurable recital, taken a few at a time or even when swallowed whole given there’s sufficient variety of tempo, and style to keep the ear alive.

She is a very stylish exponent of this repertoire. Her tone isn’t big but it is attractively focused and her intonation is excellent. During the course of a committed recital such as this there are inevitably a few passing imperfections, such as in the Wieniawski Polonaise, but they are the product of committed musicianship and will only worry those who demand perfection from musicians. It’s quite unusual to hear Rachmaninoff’s Romance Op.6 No.1 and she plays it with quiet intensity, widening her vibrato in recognition of its romanticist expression. Her double stops are fine, and she vests the music with requisite pathos; a characterful performance indeed. She plays the delightful Halffter-Heifetz Danza de la Gitana which is another concert morceau that seems to have dropped out of the way these days, though Henryk Szeryng liked it and played it often. She avoids Brahms’ contribution to the FAE Sonata, preferring Schumann’s instead and avoids the Leopold Auer arrangement of Drigo’s Valse Bluette, I notice, favouring Heifetz’s edition instead. To my ears she employs too much vibrato too early; though he plays the Auer version an old master like Zino Francescatti understands the tenor of the piece and plays with a suave lightness.

The main component that I appreciate in her playing is refinement. She’s a subtle stylist, using elegant position changes and expressive devices to make her points. When she approaches what I’d call Heifetz’s Decca Period repertoire, with Gershwin and the Spirituals, her commitment is palpable – you can hear the anticipatory sniffs in a couple of places – and this section allows Lapshin to show his technically accomplished pianism as well. Her Zigeunerweisen is stronger on charm than overt power, and that suits her playing very well, as do the elegant slides she makes in the final section. It was thoughtful of the two players to lower the temperature after this with the veiled charm of Falla’s Nana.

The recording in Schloss Britz is close-up but not over-bright. It’s a conscious recording choice and one with which the two players are in agreement. This is a fine calling card for the young violinist.

Jonathan Woolf

Henryk WIENIAWSKI (1835-1880)
Polonaise No. 1 in D Major, Op. 4 (version for violin and piano) [5:27]
Pyotr Il'yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Souvenir d'un lieu cher, Op. 42, No. 3. Melodie [3:57]
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
2 Pieces, Op. 6 No. 1. Romance [5:59]
6 Songs, Op. 38: No. 3. Margaritki (Daisies) (arr. J. Heifetz for violin and piano) [2:20]
Ernesto HALFFTER (1905-1989)
Sonatina; No. 2. Danza de la gitana (arr. J. Heifetz for violin and piano) [4:06]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Suite bergamasque: III. Clair de lune (arr. A. Roelens for violin and piano) [5:00]
Beau soir (arr. J. Heifetz for violin and piano) [2:50]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Violin Sonata No. 3 in A Minor, WoO 2 II. Intermezzo: Bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell [2:30]
Riccardo DRIGO (1846-1930)
Arlekinada (Harlequin's Millions): Valse Bluette (arr. J. Heifetz for violin and piano) [2:20]
Niccolo PAGANINI (1782-1840)
Cantabile in D Major, Op. 17, MS 109 [3:57]
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
24 Preludes, Op. 34 No. 10 in C-Sharp Minor (arr. D.M. Tsiganov for violin and piano) [2:09]
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
Porgy and Bess: Act II: Bess, you is my woman (arr. J. Heifetz for violin and piano) [3:48]
Deep River (arr. J. Heifetz for violin and piano) [2:36]
Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860-1909)
Espana, Op. 165: No. 2. Tango (arr. F. Kreisler for violin and piano) [2:38]
Manuel PONCE (1882-1948)
Estrellita (arr. J. Heifetz for violin and piano) [3:17]
Pablo de SARASATE (1844-1908)
Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20 [8:45]
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)
7 Canciones populares espanolas, No. 5. Nana (arr. for violin and piano) [2:32]

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