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Leonid NIKOLAYEV (1878-1942)
Sonata for violin and piano, Op.11 (1903) [19:29]
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Sonata for Violin and Piano No.2 in D Major, Op.94 (1943) [24:31]
Alfred SCHNITTKE (1934-1998)
Suite (Sonata) in the Old Style, for violin and piano (1973) [16:01]
Chavdar Parashkevov (violin), Natasha Kislenko (piano)
rec. 2010, Paul Shaghoian Concert Hall, Fresno, USA
CHAVDAR MUSIC (no number) [60:25]

Recorded back in 2011, this disc maintains its relevance due to the fine performance of Leonid Nikolayev’s little-known 1903 violin sonata. The disc itself is a calling-card for Bulgarian violinist Chavdar Parashkevov and for Moscow-born Natasha Kislenko; they both acquit themselves well in a programme that proves alternately rousing, dashing and full of sentiment.

Nikolayev was an eminent piano teacher numbering Yudina, Sofronitsky and Shostakovich as pupils – the latter referring to his teacher as ‘a man of great wisdom and learning’. A broad portfolio of compositions, including symphonic and choral music, was augmented by his prestigious teaching position in St Petersburg. His sonata is underpinned by a tremendous sense of buoyancy – of both rhythm and esprit. The sonata-form first movement introduces a moreish, even succulent B section very quickly and if stern auditors might detect salon charm, the rest of us can enjoy Nikolayev's cast-iron Romanticist credentials. Thereafter some folkloric elements remind one of Grieg, though some of the piano horsepower is decidedly Rachmaninovian in places. The warm Tchaikovskian slow movement reveals his gift for sensuous lyricism as well as dappled piano writing and the finale’s puckish Tarantella ranks a solid B+ for excitement.

Central repertoire is represented by Prokofiev’s D major Sonata where astute articulation ensures the lines are clarified and not clogged. The whimsical wit of the Presto second movement is drawn out but not paraded and changes of colour are adept. The slow movement is well characterised and the finale is taken at a real con brio. To end with Schnittke’s Suite in the Old Style might seem a drollery too far but in fact the music’s innocence emerges the more strongly after the turbulent romanticism of Nikolayev and the ambiguous entreaties of Prokofiev. Parashkevov is careful not to widen his vibrato but still projects with a lively imagination and ends the Pantomime with a rather affecting sense of envoi.

The useful English-language notes are written by Kislenko. Altogether this is an attractive production, well recorded, and with really good performances.

Jonathan Woolf

Previous review: Steve Arloff

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