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Russian Romantics
Mikhail Ivanovich GLINKA (1804-1857)
Violin Sonata in D minor [17:39]
Mazurka in E minor (arr. Safonov) [3:35]
Reinhold GLIÈRE (1875-1956)
Romance in B minor Op. 3 [4:29]
César CUI (1835-1918)
Alla Spagnuola No. 1 in A minor Op. 24 No. 1 [2:50]
Alexander Konstantinovich GLAZUNOV (1865-1936)
Meditation Op. 32 [3:17]
Sonatina in A minor [2:54]
Grand Adagio from Raymonda [4:13]
Viktor Stepanovych KOSENKO (1896-1938)
Two Pieces Op. 4 (Dreams; Impromptu) [8:45]
Anton Grigorevich RUBINSTEIN (1829-1894)
Viola Sonata in F minor, Op. 49: Andante (violin version) [6:13]
Romance in E flat major, Op. 44 No. 1 'The Night' [4:53]
Melody in F major, Op. 3 No. 1 [3:29]
Hideko Udagawa (violin)
Alexander Panfilov (piano)
rec. 2017, St Silas Church, London

Recorded in a warm acoustic, this unusual "Russian Romantics" collection - part of Northern Flowers' "St. Petersburg Musical Archive" - is agreeably old-fashioned. Hideko Udagawa, has recorded for Nimbus (Brahms, Glazunov, Baroque), Signum (Lyapunov and Khachaturian) and Koch (Khachaturian). Here, her trademark warmth pays attentive and vivid court to the traditions of Kreisler, Shumsky and Campoli. She is well attuned to nineteenth century lush and is engagingly personable not that her emotionally forthright playing always feels totally secure - a not unwelcome sense of vulnerability and risk-taking occasionally rears its head.

Udagawa is completely in-style in the arrangement of Glinka's little Mazurka. Gliere's Romance has a Delian plangency and a sweetened salon glow. After that sunset hum Cui's lively Alla Spagnuola canters along in Iberian finery which places this in the same league as Saint-Saëns' Havanaise and Caprice Andalou. Having recorded the Glazunov Violin Concerto in the late 1980s for Pickwick (later Nimbus), Udagawa turns to the same composer's Meditation. This disc shows it flowing with salon 'jus' all presented in an agreeably calculated torpor. Much the same applies to the same composer's Sonatina movement and the bonbon from Raymonda.

Dreams by Kosenko (Centaur and Toccata) is a perfect fit for the other sun-irradiated works here. This is high-aspiring salon music with a dizzy calorific value. To provide contrast we also have his Impromptu - a score alive with vitality and with flight-feathers in good fettle. A central serenade again plays adroitly to the signature romance of this collection before taking wing again. The Rubinstein Andante is gracious, as is the somewhat lachrymose Romance. Hearts and flowers are also very much to the fore in Rubinstein's famous Melody in F and that aspect is not underplayed.

Udagawa is a heartfelt player and she is in good hands, as is the eloquent and skilled pianist Alexander Panfilov, with engineer and one-time violist Michael Ponder. The main liner-note is by Robert Matthew-Walker but Udagawa also shares with us her passionate views about this music in a Performer's Note. This is valuable and not only because she lets us have additional background on the sometimes-complex provenance of these pieces.

The consistency of emotional mood and vibrant grand style across approaching 63 minutes means you may well want to play this disc in several sittings. These well-chosen scores embody musical nostalgia but they are not to be taken liberally.

Rob Barnett



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