WORKS: Divertimento; Suite italienne; Duo concertant,
PERFORMER: Lydia Mordkovitch (violin), Julian Milford (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9756
Surprisingly, there is no mention of the name of Samuel Dushkin on the case of this immensely enjoyable disc of works by Stravinsky for violin and piano. A Russian/American violinist, Dushkin somehow managed to bypass the composer’s inherent suspicion of virtuosi and the resulting creative partnership not only produced the Violin Concerto, but also a recital’s worth of material for them to perform as a duo. Stravinsky composed one entirely new work, the Duo concertant, and completed the programme with arrangements from several pre-existing works, a process which often involved recomposition, alterations and additions.
Remarkably, these pieces are heard only infrequently, so this issue is to be welcomed for bringing them together on one well-recorded disc in performances which exude an infectious enthusiasm. Both Lydia Mordkovitch and Julian Milford extract an extraordinary range of tone colour, so that you can almost hear the clarinets in the Minuetto of the Pulcinella arrangement, Suite italienne. Mordkovitch does not always maintain the driving momentum which underpins Itzhak Perlman’s exciting and incisive jaunt through this repertoire, notably in the Divertimento, the reworking of the ballet The Fairy’s Kiss. The 1933 recordings from Stravinsky and Dushkin (EMI) are an obvious point of reference, and Perlman is the best all-round option in the larger pieces, but Mordkovitch can, nonetheless, be warmly recommended as a modern tribute to a fruitful partnership. Christopher Dingle