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Virtuoso Dances

Linus Roth (violin), José Gallardo (piano) (Evil Penguin)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Virtuoso Dances
Bartók: Romanian Folk Dances; Brahms: Hungarian Dances; Stravinsky: Divertimento; Szymanowski: Nocturne and Tarantella, Op. 28; plus works by Bazzini, Piazzolla & Wieniawski
Linus Roth (violin), José Gallardo (piano)
Evil Penguin EPRC0037   74:46 mins

Linus Roth tells us this concatenation of virtuoso violin and piano fireworks was recorded last July as a counterblast to the cancellations of lockdown. Two of the items are actually quite substantial. Stravinsky’s six-movement Divertimento is an arrangement by himself and the violinist Samuel Dushkin of the orchestral Divertimento drawn, in turn, from his ballet The Fairy’s Kiss – that unique fusion of the styles of Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky. Szymanowski’s Notturno et Tarantella, Op. 28, by contrast, comprises 12 minutes of sultry impressionism shot through with sparks of Spanishry.

Then there are two bucolic romps comprising Bartók’s familiar six Romanian Folk Dances, and four of Brahms’s Hungarian Dances in arrangements by Kreisler and Joachim, plus two pyrotechnic salon pieces: Wieniawski’s prancing Polonaise de ConcertOp.25, and La Ronde de Lutins by Puccini’s composition teacher, Antonio Bazzini. In the middle of it all, like a bittersweet sorbet, comes Le Grand Tango by Astor Piazzolla, originally written for Rostropovich, no less, and arranged by Sofia Gubaidulina.

Though one might occasionally wish for a slightly crisper Stravinskian attack in moments of the Divertimento, the playing in general is a tonic indeed. Roth finds a silvery sweetness for the more lyrical sections of the Stravinsky, an earthy fullness for the Brahms and skitters through the harmonics and left-hand pizzicato passages of the Wieniawski and Bazzini with dazzling accuracy and speed. Gallardo impressively controls the turbid textures of the Szymanowski and, as a fellow Argentinian, brings an authentic lilt to the Piazzolla –  enough to charm the legs off an Evil Penguin.

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Bayan Northcott.