Dance of Shadows

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COMPOSERS: Piazzolla,Silvestrov; Schnittke; Tabakova,Ysaye
LABELS: Quartz
ALBUM TITLE: Dance of Shadows
WORKS: Ysaÿe: Sonata in A minor; Piazzolla: Tango No. 2; Silvestrov: Postlude; Schnittke: A Paganini; Tabakova: Spinning a Yarn
PERFORMER: Roman Mints (violin)


Moscow-born Roman Mints imparts a vital emotional narrative to Ysaÿe’s ‘Obsession’-led Second Sonata, making the music so much his own that he occasionally diverges from the original as if held in its thrall. In order to recreate its shadowy stream-of-consciousness, in which recollections of Bach are intermingled with the Dies Irae (‘Day of Wrath’) chant, he subtly changes perspective within the sound-field, enhancing the sensation of drifting in and out of musical focus. The spatial dimension is employed still more startlingly in Schnittke’s A Paganini, in which the ghostly reminiscences of the Italian’s caprices become echoes.

The sense of a musical alter-ego is further enhanced by Dobrinka Tabakova’s Spinning a Yarn, which involves the simultaneous use of a kolesnaya lira (a form of Russian hurdy gurdy), and a haunting rethink of Piazzolla’s Tango-Etude that creates the uncanny impression of being extemporised as it goes along. For Valentin Silvestrov’s Postlude, Mints appears to emerge from a more distant point on the aural horizon, so that it is experienced as though through a heat haze. So startling (and captivating) are the results as to make more mainstream approaches feel tongue‑tied by comparison.


Julian Haylock