Hindemith • Schnittke • Gringolts • Ysaÿe

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COMPOSERS: Gringolts,Hindemith,Schnittke,Ysaye
LABELS: BIS
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Ilya Gringolts Solo
WORKS: Sonatas, Op. 31/1 & 2; À Paganini; Sonata Bachiana; Sonatas, Op. 27/3 & 6
PERFORMER: Ilya Gringolts (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: CD-1051

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Ilya Gringolts, the 18-year-old violin prodigy from St Petersburg, has already given BIS a stunning disc of Paganini. Now he turns in a no less impressive solo recital of 20th-century repertoire, passionate and virtually flawless even in the most taxing bravura display pieces, of which his compatriot Schnittke’s manically virtuosic À Paganini is the wildest of all. But the two Hindemith solo sonatas, their more subtle difficulties thrown off so smoothly you wouldn’t know they were there, are expounded with elegance and understanding. Their linear, implied polyphonic style provides a link with Gringolts’s own short and very assured Sonata Bachiana, composed in 1997 at the age of 15 (Gringolts gave up composition the following year, finding it incompatible with his concert career – not for ever, we should hope). But probably his main inspiration came from the six Ysaÿe solo sonatas, themselves updating Bach in the light of modern violin technique. The number of recordings of those masterpieces is gratifyingly on the increase; here Gringolts plays the two shortest with fire and manifest mastery, brilliantly pointing the Spanish rhythms of No. 6 (dedicated to Manuel Quiroga). If I have a cavil, it’s about the ambience: the recording venue, Länna Church, Sweden, gives the disc a cavernous resonance, over-supplied with echo. Some church acoustics serve the solo violin just fine, but this one’s too much of a good thing.

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Calum MacDonald