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Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77 [39:58]
Hungarian Dances for Violin and Piano: No. 9 in E minor [2:42]; No. 8 in A minor [3:11]; No. 3 in F major [2:57]
Max BRUCH (1838-1920)
Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op.26 [25:57]
Ayla Erduran (violin)
Paulette Zanlonghi (piano)
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/Richard Beck (Brahms), Armin Jordan (Bruch)
rec. 1970-79, Radio Suisse Romande, Espace 2
GALLO CD-1087 [75:21]

The Turkish violinist Ayla Erduran (b. 1934) began her violin studies at the age of four, and gave her first public recital when she was ten. She then progressed to the Paris Conservatoire under the tutelage of René Benedetti. Following graduation, she spent five years in New York working with Ivan Galamian and Zino Francescatti. From 1957 to 1958 she studied with David Oistrakh at the Moscow Conservatory. She taught in Switzerland between 1973 and 1990, during which time she gave master classes at Lausanne Conservatory. Her wide-ranging repertoire embraced not only the standard repertoire, but also Turkish composers, including Ahmet Saygun, Ulvi Cemal Erkin and Çetin Işıközlü. By all accounts, her discography is not large, which gives added value to these Swiss radio recordings, taped between 1970 and 1979.

There is wonderful poise and elegance in this performance of the Brahms Violin Concerto, where grandeur and intimacy sit shoulder to shoulder. Richard Beck lays out his credentials as an inspirational partner from the outset in the opening tutti. Erduran makes her dramatic entrance and, throughout, projects a silken tone. The melodic beauty of the work is matched by the mastery of the scoring, which Beck points up eloquently. Joachim’s cadenza is technically assured. The ardently phrased oboe solo at the start of the Adagio sets the stage for a bucolic landscape, where Erduran’s contouring of the lyrical line is captivating, enhanced by her sweetness of tone in the upper registers. The Hungarian-flavoured Rondo calls time with great energy and gusto.

There is no disputing the fact that the Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 is weighed down with recordings and performances, and there is a tendency for it to suffer from hackneyed routine in interpretation. I did not find Erduran’s reading jaded at all. In the slow movement, I found reminiscences of Menuhin’s first recording of the work in terms of its phrasing and eloquence. Erduran’s flawless intonation shines though with glowing purity. In the finale, her technique and rhythmic precision cannot be faulted. Armin Jordan is a well-attuned collaborator.

The pianist Paulette Zanlonghi joins the violinist for three Hungarian Dances by Brahms. Melodically appealing, idiomatic and stylish, they constitute attractive fillers.

Erduran’s violin in these recordings is the Nelson ex-Roderer Stradivarius of 1710, which she acquired from Wurlitzer in New York in 1955.

Stephen Greenbank

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