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Legends (Gwendolyn Maslin)

Rachel Harnisch (soprano), Kirill Troussov, Gwendolyn Masin (violin), Alexandra Troussova, Jan Philip Schulze (piano) (Orchid Classics)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Enescu: Sept chansons de Clément Marot; Wieniawski: Légende; Valse-Caprice; Ysaÿe: String Quintet in B minor; Wieniawska: Calendonian Market – excerpts; Tango
Rachel Harnisch (soprano), Kirill Troussov, Gwendolyn Masin (violin), Alexandra Troussova, Jan Philip Schulze (piano)
Orchid Classics ORC100210   60:31 mins


Inspired by the great virtuoso violinist and composer Henryk Wieniawski, this intriguing programme devised by the violinist Gwendolyn Masin borrows its title from one of his most famous works, Légende, which opens the recording in a soulful performance by the violinist Kirill Troussov and Alexandra Troussova. The line-up of musicians includes two pairs of siblings, and familial as well as pedagogical links between the composers provide the main theme here, though the city of Brussels is another unifying thread: the Lublin-born Wieniawski was appointed violin professor there towards the end of his life.

Eugène Ysaÿe, one of Wieniawski’s pupils in Brussels, is represented by his little-known String Quintet in B minor, a single-movement work by turns striving and rapturous; it receives a beautifully wrought performance. In turn, Ysaÿe was one of George Enescu’s mentors, and Enescu features with his Sept Chansons de Clément Marot, a cycle of reflective, chaste simplicity; it is warmly sung by Rachel Harnisch. Wieniawski’s younger brother, the pianist-composer Józef Wieniawski, is also heard (the Valse-Caprice for piano), but the recording ends on an spikier note with the music of Henryk Wieniawski’s youngest daughter, the Brussels-born Irène Wieniawska (pseudonym: Poldowski). Her Caledonian Market suite for piano (1923) is played with character by Jan Philip Schulze, and Gwendolyn Masin is the bold violinist in her Tango. Bringing the programme full circle, it’s worth noting too that Irène Wieniawska’s mother Isabella Hampton was Légende’s dedicatee.


John Allison