Pastorale; Ballad; Suite Italienne; Divertimento; Variation d’Apollon; Violin Concerto in D; Elégie; Tango
Ilya Gringolts (violin), Peter Laul (piano); Galicia Symphony Orchestra/Dima Slobodeniouk
BIS BIS-2275 (hybrid CD/SACD) 76:24 mins
It’s true to say that, earlier in his career, Stravinsky didn’t care much for the violin. Indeed it played second fiddle (quite literally) in his works until the 1920s when he encountered Polish-American violinist Samuel Dushkin. The composer also had a dislike of virtuoso performances, citing their need for ‘seeking immediate triumphs’ in the music; it’s a wonder, then, he got quite so pally with Dushkin, a virtuoso of a very high order. With his guidance, Stravinsky made friends with strings and set about arranging works for chamber forces, not to mention composing a few new ones.
This second volume of Music for Violin sees violinist Ilya Gringolts and pianist Peter Laul return to what I think is some of Stravinsky’s most vivacious work. Comprised of arrangements and re-arrangements of music written as far apart as 1907 and 1944, it certainly takes a widescreen view. At the centre sits the 1931 Violin Concerto, a work which features trademark fluctuations of meter but surprises with lyrical beauty in the third movement. That lyricism and tonal colour abounds in the surrounding programme, especially the 1933 rearrangements of the familiar Suite Italienne and Pastorale. The latter, for violin and four winds, skips along delightfully and is an early highlight, while the final Tango (1944) feels distinctly out of place somehow. The performances are perfectly poised, the recording faultless.