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Mikhail Waiman (violin)
Concerts in East Germany 1950-1963
MELOCLASSIC MC2051 [77:31 + 76:07]

Mikhail Waiman (also spelled Vaiman or Vayman) was one of a number of gifted pupils of the school of Pyotr Stolyarsky, later continuing his studies with Yuliy Eidlin, an Auer pupil. At a time when competitions were very much an arm of cultural prestige, Waiman was one of the Soviet Union’s leading young performers, though he serially lost out to his contemporary Igor Bezrodny during the years 1949-50.

It’s notable that Abram Yampolsky picked up on his Tchaikovsky performance as early as 1943, when Waiman was still only 16, writing that it was ‘both technically perfect and innately musical’ as this twofer opens with the work from an East Berlin radio studio performance given in 1957. It reinforces Yampolsky’s admiration. It’s not fast but is cannily paced. Waiman’s tonal resources are variegated - I disagree with the anonymous New York critic cited in the notes who found him cold – and his first movement cadenza is dispatched with authority. He makes a big, robust sound in the second movement – no withdrawn or cloaked refuge for Waiman - and his finale is elastic, alive and communicative. Two years earlier he’d performed Mozart’s Fourth Concerto with Hermann Abendroth, though this time in the more recessed acoustic of the Komische Oper. Waiman manages to strike a good balance between his natural romanticism and the dictates of classicism here and Abendroth really does get the lower strings to dig into the Janissary theme in the finale. For the final concerto in disc one we move to Leipzig where the city’s radio orchestra is directed by a very excitable Karl Eliasberg in Bach’s Concerto in E major. The label offers an apology for the conductor’s grunting in tuttis and some audience noise.

The second disc rounds out appreciation of the violinist with another concerto and sonata and other items. The concerto is that of Alexi Machavariani, a work that Waiman took into the studio to record commercially. Here he plays it with the notably elevated support of the Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestra and Franz Konwitschny. It’s a curious work sounding at times like a rip-off of the Khachaturian but, when it relaxes, it becomes suffused with opulent density of sound and very beautiful lyricism, not least in the central movement which is played with beguiling sensitivity by Waiman. His passionate ardour and winning sound bring the music truly to life. He has sufficient independence of sound and aesthetic not to sound like David Oistrakh, his friend and admirer, in Prokofiev’s First Sonata, played with his sonata partner (and wife) Maria Karandschova. Their Bartók Romanian Dances are characterful. His Bach Solo Sonata in G minor conforms to Soviet norms of solo Bach playing of the time, which was to favour robustness and projection over the needs of the dance. He didn’t record any of the solo Sonatas or Partitas commercially so this 1963 Berlin performance, which comes from the sonata programme, offers invaluable evidence of his Bach performances.

Though taken from different concert venues the sound quality and restoration of the tapes remains consistently good and the documentation is first-class.

Waiman was a formidable performer in the best Soviet traditions. He may have lacked Oistrakh’s personalisation of sound and Kogan’s technical mastery but he possessed many qualities that bracket him with others in that lesser category such as Boris Goldstein, Igor Bezrodny and Julian Sitkovetsky, three players who, incidentally, form another, soon-to-be-reviewed twofer from this label.

Jonathan Woolf

Pyotr Ilych TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Violin Concerto in D Major, Op 35 (1878) [33:59]
Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin/Rolf Kleinert
rec. 20 May 1957, Berlin Funkhaus Nalepastrasse, Rundfunk der DDR, Radio Studio Recording
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Violin Concerto No 5 in A Major, KV 219 (1775) [25:27]
Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin/Hermann Abendroth
rec. 15 May 1955, Berlin Komische Oper, Rundfunk der DDR, Live Recording
Johann Sebastian BACH (16865-1750)
Violin Concerto in E Major, BWV 1042 [18:04]
Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Leipzig/Karl Eliasberg
rec.29 July 1950, Leipzig Schauspielhaus, Rundfunk der DDR, Live Recording
Alexi MACHAVARIANI (1913-1995)
Violin Concerto (1949) [27:32]
Gewandhausorchester Leipzig/Franz Konwitschny
rec. 27 November 1951, Leipzig Kongresshalle, Rundfunk der DDR, Live Recording
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Violin Sonata No 1 in F Minor, Op 80 (1946) [24:04]
Béla BARTÓK (1882-1945)
Romanian Folk Dances, Sz 56 arr. Z. Székely (1915) [5:15]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Praeludium in C Minor [3:07]
Maria Karandschova (piano)
Johann Sebastian BACH
Solo Sonata No 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001 [16:07]
rec. 30 October 1963, Berlin Volksbühne, Rundfunk der DDR, Live Recording


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