WORKS: Etudes-caprices, Op. 18
PERFORMER: Ilya Gringolts, Alexandr Bulov (violin), Irina Ryumina (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD-1016
Today’s media circus seems to support just two kinds of violinist. They’re either fast-fingered, small-minded Juilliard School super-clones, too numerous to mention, or far worse, ‘crossover’ fiddlers like Kennedy, Vanessa-Mae, and now (however improbably) ‘Eurotrash Babe’ Linda Brava. So it’s reassuring to find two prodigiously gifted, discerning and dedicated young Russians making out a cast-iron case for music of which their contemporaries are either unaware, or (most probably) have dismissed as embarrassing Romantic bric-a-brac. Time was when gems like the Moszkowski Suite were regularly played, but this work, like much appealing recital room fare, has vanished from the repertoire.
Ilya Gringolts, aged 17, created a sensation with his debut recording of Paganini works for BIS in 1999. He’s now joined by another rising star from St Petersburg, Alexandr Bulov (16), also a student of Professor Tatiana Liberova. The pair make an ideally balanced duo partnership, well matched technically (they alternate first and second violin parts), though Gringolts’s Stradivarius violin (made by Omobono, son of the great Antonio, in 1737) has, understandably, a depth and quality not quite matched by Bulov’s 1985 Peresson instrument. Still, their exemplary accounts of duos by Wieniawski, Alard and Moszkowski are catalogue ‘firsts’. Highly recommended. Michael Jameson