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Salut d’amour
Sueye Park (violin)
Love Derwinger (piano)
rec. 2017, Studio Acusticum, Piteĺ, Sweden
BIS BIS-2382 SACD [58:43]

Most recitals of this kind are quite predictable when it comes to the choice of repertoire: a handful of Kreisler (with Liebesleid and Liebesfreud as obligatory items), Elgar’s Salut d’amour and La Capricieuse, a Hungarian dance by Brahms, the Meditation from Thaďs, Dinicu’s Hora staccato in Heifetz’s arrangement, some Paganini - a mix of sweet melodious pieces and virtuoso fireworks. The present disc doesn’t quite follow that pattern. Kreisler is there of course, but not the obligatory ones, Elgar is there, but only one and Paganini is there, but only as basis for Nathan Milstein’s quite extended variations. Instead we get another wizard, the Spaniard Sarasate, whose Introduction et Tarantelle fills both criteria sweet and virtuoso. The melody is beautiful and sweet, sentimental too if you don’t mind, but it is played with elegance and the technical fireworks of the tarantella are tossed off brilliantly but without a lot of fuss. Elgar is simple and restrained. Kreisler’s La Gitana is suitably gypsy like but with typical Kreislerian sweetness and the well-known Tambourin chinois with its orientalisms is a perfect vehicle for Sueye Park’s fluent virtuosity. Stunning violinism indeed!

Kreisler had a finger in the pie with Dvorak’s Songs my mother taught me, originally a song but the arrangement from 1914 does full justice to the beautiful melody. Love Derwinger’s sensitive accompaniment is also worth a laurel. Nathan Milstein was one of the greatest virtuosos of the 20th century and his Paganini variations, tailor made for his own capacity, is one of the toughest nuts for any violinist to crack: double stops, tremolos, spiccato – anything that could challenge any violinist’s technique. Sueye Park fixes it all, seemingly effortlessly. Overwhelming!

Tchaikovsky’s tribute to his benefactress Nadezhda von Meck, Mélodie from Souvenir d’un lieu chčr, is so well nuanced without seeming laboured. Simplicity is art in itself. Wieniawski’s Scherzo-Tarantelle on the other hand, is not intended to sound simple. He was only 20 when he wrote it, and he also prepared a version with orchestra, which indicates that his ambitions were higher than just a show-off piece.

A song is also Rachmaninov’s Vocalise, but as the title suggests intended for wordless song. It was published in 1915 and the dedicatee was the great Russian soprano Antonina Nezhdanova. Her voice was quite bright but extremely beautiful. Sueye Park’s tone is certainly warmer than Nezhdanova’s.

Kreisler was always on the look-out for interesting melodies to arrange for his violin, and the Spanish dance from de Falla’s opera La vida breve, premiered in 1913, he arranged in 1926. I have to admit that the American violinist, organist and composer Edwin Grasse’s Wellenspiel in my ears is rather uninteresting, but the playing is of course very convincing.

The earliest of the violinist/composers in this programme is Brno born Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst, who not only heard Paganini playing but also became friends with him and eventually also his competitor. Certain critics maintained that Paganini, technically speaking, was unequalled but Ernst played with more soul. Joseph Joachim, himself one of the greatest violinists of the century and a good deal younger than Ernst, regarded him to be the greatest violinist he had ever heard. Joachim, born in 1831, was a child prodigy and played in public for the first time in 1839 at the age of 7. Theoretically he could have met Paganini who passed away in 1840 but had already put an end to his concert career in 1834. Ernst’s Die letzte Rose, like the Milstein piece written for violin solo, is another of those Everests of the violin repertoire that violinists strive to climb, and on the way to the summit there are technical obstacles aplenty to get around. Suffice it to say that Sueye Park reaches the top unscathed and the reward is to play a third beautiful song, arranged this time by another giant of the violin, Jascha Heifetz. The song, Wie Melodien zieht es mir by Brahms. In his second violin sonata Brahms had already used this melody as one of the motifs. Beautifully played this is a wonderful conclusion of a masterly violin recital.

Production values are usually with BIS high, and the quality of the recording state-of-the-art. It is SACD; I’ve listened to the traditional CD layer and am fully satisfied with that.

Sueye Park, still a teenager, made her recording debut for BIS not long ago with a highly praised disc of Paganini’s 24 Caprices (reviews). It seems that BIS have made a valuable addition to their stable.

Göran Forsling

Pablo de SARASATE (1844 – 1908)
1. Introduction et Tarantelle, Op. 43 [5:06]
Edward ELGAR (1857 – 1934)
2. Salut d’amour, Op. 12 [2:42]
Fritz KREISLER (1875 – 1962)
3. La Gitana [3:19]
4. Tambourin chinois, Op. 3 [3:44]
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841 – 1904)
5. Songs My Mother Taught Me, Op. 55 No. 4 [2:43]
Nathan MILSTEIN (1905 – 1992)
6. Paganiniana (Variations) for violin solo [8:34]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840 – 1893)
7. Mélodie, Op. 42 No. 3 (from Souvenir d’un lieu chér) [3:11]
Henryk WIENIAWSKI (1835 – 1880)
8. Scherzo-Tarantelle, Op. 16 [4:51]
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873 – 1943) arr. Shin-Itchiro Yokayama
9. Vocalise, Op. 34 No. 14 [5:38]
Manuel de FALLA (1876 – 1946) arr. Fritz Kreisler
10. Danse espagnole (from La vida breve) [3:24]
Edwin GRASSE (1884 – 1954)
11. Wellenspiel [1:46]
Heinrich Wilhelm ERNST (1812/14 – 1865)
12. Die letzte Rose for violin solo [9:42]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833 – 1897) arr. Jascha Heifetz
13. Contemplation Wie Melodien zieht es mir, Op. 105 No. 1 [2:16]

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