Bach • Shchedrin • Ysaÿe

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COMPOSERS: Bach,Shchedrin,Ysaye
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Maxim Vengerov
WORKS: Toccata and Fugue,BWV565; Sonatas for Solo Violin,Op. 27; Violin Sonata No. 2 in A minor; Violin Sonata No. 3 in D minor (Ballade); Violin Sonata No. 4 in E minor; Violin Sonata No. 6 in E; Echo Sonata; Balalaika
PERFORMER: Maxim Vengerov (violin)


Most of this CD is taken up with four of Ysaÿe’s six unaccompanied sonatas, each one dedicated to a different violinist from the early part of the 20th century. Maxim Vengerov has the technique to deal with everything that Ysaÿe throws at him, but there’s no danger of his turning the whole thing into empty display: even in the most hair-raisingly impossible double-stops and roulades he finds time to shape the music with phrasing and rubato. And, while never ceasing to be Vengerov, he manages to give a flavour of the personality and style of each of the dedicatees – the Classical lightness of Thibaud weaving a Bach partita and the ‘Dies irae’ together in the Second Sonata; the more earthy central European tone of Enescu in the Third; the genial warmth and poise of Kreisler in the Fourth; and (I speculate) the Spanish fire of the lesser-known Quiroga in the Sixth. Would that he’d recorded the two remaining Ysaÿe sonatas rather than the dull, over-long Echo Sonata by Shchedrin – there would still have been time for the arrangement of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue (convincingly performed on Baroque violin), and Shchedrin’s Balalaika, which brings the house down in the only track recorded live.


Martin Cotton