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Albert MARKOV (b. 1933)
Paganini-Ostinato (1985) [22:29]
Taiwanese Improvisation (1992) [4:16]
Sonata for solo violin No.1 (1965) [6:45]
Sonata for solo violin No.2 (1973) [8:32]
Duo sonata for two violins (1986) [6:25]
Postlude, after Bach’s Concerto, BWV1042 (1982) [2:02]
Träumerei from Kinderszenen by Robert Schumann arr. Albert Markov [2:46]
Leyenda, from Asturias by Isaac Albéniz arr. Albert Markov [5:07]
Jean-Luc Richardoz (violin)
Patricia Reibaud (1st violin in the Duo Sonata)
rec. 2012, Chapelle Sainte-Hélène d’Auray

Albert Markov is now in his early eighties and his career as a top-flight violin soloist is over, but he continues to teach – most recently at the Mannes College and at the Manhattan School in New York. His prize-winning performance at the 1959 Queen Elisabeth International Competition in Brussels was the thing that propelled him toward an international career, and his training with Stoliarsky and Yankelvich – second to none – had also been accompanied by secure composition studies with Aram Khachaturian.

Markov also composes, and unusually for a fiddle player, excepting Enescu – well, Kreisler wrote an operetta – he has written two operas, as well as a symphony, a string quartet, and numerous pieces for violin which include the wo solo sonatas to be heard in this disc.

The focal point however is the Paganini-Ostinato, written in 1985, essentially reminiscences of Paganini’s Caprices couched as ‘comic miniatures united by the same chord sequence’, in Markov’s own words. They make formidable demands on the player, even their serio-comic wrong-note moments requiring a cast-iron technique. The ninth variation is no less witty than any other and like them offers a light-hearted commentary on those Op.1 Caprices, adding a whole new battery of difficulties. This is the first-ever recording and has been entrusted to Jean-Luc Richardoz, who copes with remarkable sang-froid throughout.

The two solo sonatas add a good deal of ballast to the programme. The First is, in effect, his Op.1 of 1965, quite expressive and calling for total command of the motoric second movement. The later solo sonata is somewhat neo-romantic, possibly reminiscent of Enescu in places, with some rather fascinating fluidity in the longer-breathed second section. The Taiwanese Improvisation is an extract from his Formosa suite, a brief four-minute and quite stirring taster for the complete work, which Markov has himself recorded in full. He creates an assemblage of themes for the Postlude after Bach’s Concerto BWV1042, recasts Träumerei for solo violin, and brings energy to his arrangement of Albéniz’s Leyenda. The sonata for two violins reminds me of the playful humanity of the hausmusik of Adolf Busch or Röntgen though it’s cast in a conspicuously more contemporary idiom. Plenty of lyricism ensures that this work does not outstay its welcome.

This disc has been well recorded and annotated and the performances throughout are thoroughly commendable. It’s good to read that Markov has added his imprimatur to the undertaking.

Jonathan Woolf


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