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Appassionato - A Journey of Passion thorough Europe and Time
Clara SCHUMANN (1819-1896)
Romance in B flat major, Op.22 No.3 (1853) [5:34]
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Violin Sonata No.3 Op.45: Allegretto espressivo alla Romanza, [6:35]
Josef SUK (1874-1935)
Piseň Lásky, Op.7 No.1 [6:29]
Pablo de SARASATE (1844-1908)
Romanza Andaluza, Op.22 No.1 [5:24]
Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
Salut d’amour, Op.12 [3:22]
Jenö TAKÁCS (1902-2005)
Hungarian Rhapsodie, Op.49 [5:10]
Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937)
La fontaine d’Arethuse Op.20 No.1 [5:49]
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Violin Sonata No.1 in F minor, Op.80: Andantino (1938-46) [7:22]
Myroslav SKORYK (b.1953)
Melody [3:40]
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)
Liebesleid [3:30]
Schön Rosmarin [1:58]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Violin Sonata in G (1923-27): Blues [6:20]
Arkadij Winokurow (violin)
Elisabeth Eschwé (piano)
rec. March 2015, G.I. Stingl Piano House, Vienna
GRAMOLA 99085 [61:55]

The disc’s subtitle talks of a journey of passion through Europe and Time, a mouth-watering prospect though one that begs a few questions: what kind of passion, what parts of Europe (and why only Europe?) … and what time?

The answer to the last question is Clara Schumann to Myroslav Skoryk (b.1953) and the answer to the second is Catalonia to the Carpathians. As for the first, well that’s a more difficult one to answer. There’s the sublimated salon feelings of Elgar, and the stylisation of Ravel, the evocative sensuality of Szymanowski and the full-on romanticism of Suk. Then we have the Viennese charm – how passionate that is must be a matter of debate – of Fritz Kreisler.

If you forget the subtitle, you’re left with a violin recital pure and simple. It’s played by Arkadij Winokurow who was born in Kiev and, after graduation from the Tchaikovsky Music University, took guidance from the two greatest products of the Soviet violin school, David Oistrakh and Leonid Kogan. He moved to Finland as guest professor in 1980, seven years later becoming chief conductor and indeed manager of the Kiev Chamber Orchestra. This period didn’t derail his career as a fiddler as teaching appointments in Austria saw a resumption of his active playing. He was first violin of the Arte Viva Quartet and with Elisabeth Eschwé, his sonata partner, herself a busy performer, he keeps up regular concert engagements.

He has rather a soft-grained approach to the repertoire, phrasing sympathetically and with warmth. The Clara Schumann Romance suits his playing well and one can tell his engagement level as he is one of that breed of sniffers, whose sharp anticipatory intakes of breath can be heard on several tracks. He has decided against a big sonata or two coupled with small satellite pieces and so has extracted single movements from sonatas by Grieg, Ravel, and Prokofiev. They’re cleanly done, the Ravel Blues unexaggerated and the Prokofiev’s austere qualities showing stylistic awareness. His Sarasate is quite low-key, and the Elgar quite colourful with some nice finger position changes and not too glutinous. The Skoryk is interesting as its stoic melancholy, deriving from Carpathian folk music, has been arranged by the composer specifically for Winokurow.

The recording is pretty well balanced and the notes attractively brief. Gramola has done well by its performers.

Jonathan Woolf



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