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Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
Music for Violin - Volume 1
Pastorale [2:47]
L'Oiseau de feu: Prélude et Ronde des princesses [5:06], Berceuse [2:47], Scherzo [2:31]
Mavra: Chanson Russe [3:30]
Petroushka: Danse Russe [2:33]
Pulcinella: Suite for Violin and Piano [15:19]
Duo concertant [15:25]
Le Rossignol: Airs du rossignol [5:08], Marche chinoise [3:07]
Rouget DE LISLE (1760-1836)
La Marseillaise (arr. Stravinsky) [1:03]
Ilya Gringolts (violin)
Peter Laul (piano)
rec. Potton Hall, Westleton, Saxmundham, Suffolk, 2016
Reviewed in surround 5.0
BIS BIS-2245 SACD [60:48]

This extensive collection of pieces, many of them arrangements, are additions to the catalogue so far as I am concerned. Even the so-called complete Stravinsky edition on CBS, which contains all the composer’s own recordings made for Columbia, does not include all of these pieces. Much to enjoy then, that manages to be new and familiar at the same time. For example, most collectors will have the piano transcription Three Pieces from Petroushka but here we have the ‘Danse Russe’ for violin and piano. The notes explain that he did not merely arrange his music but to an extent recomposed it. The violinist Dushkin, for whom a lot of this was prepared, notes: “He behaved like an architect who if asked to change a room on the third floor had to go down to the foundations to keep the proportions of his whole structure”. That is how these pieces come across, as thoroughgoing reworkings that fit this instrumental pairing like a glove. Some of the early works sound remarkably modern, like the two pieces from The Nightingale, which have grinding harmonies and require much power from the players. The Suite of 1920-25 is drawn from the extensive score of Pulcinella, a major masterpiece by this great composer, and after listening to the five movements of the suite, it seems essential to go on and hear the entire work, orchestra, singers and all. Knowing how keen Stravinsky was to make money out of his creative efforts I am sure that was always at the back of his mind when dangling these tasty morsels in front of his public. One imagines him smiling at his own witty, one-minute transcription of Rouget de Lisle’s La Marseillaise.

Ilya Gringolts is a fine violinist and never sounds under strain whatever the composer makes him do. Gidon Kremer used to play some of these pieces and Gringolts is fully his equal. Pianist Peter Laul is most emphatically not a mere accompanist but is also subjected to the Stravinsky work-out, to which he rises brilliantly. I was entranced by the quality of all these superb works and look forward to the next disc. This is entitled Volume 1, so there has to be at least one more. The notes by Jean-Pascal Vachon are outstanding: detailed and highly informative.

The BIS recording, one hardly needs to say, is superb. Engineer Jens Braun made this in Potton Hall, Suffolk. He places the two instruments clearly in the acoustic space with Gringolts slightly to the left of Laul whose Steinway fills the centre stage. The recordings have punch as well as clarity and certainly gave my surround system a great workout. Buy this issue at once even if you can only listen in stereo.

Dave Billinge



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