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Vladigerov: Impressions etc (Hirose)

Etsuko Hirose (piano) (Mirare)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

Vladigerov
Impressions; Bulgarian Suite; Prelude, Op. 15/1
Etsuko Hirose (piano)
Mirare MIR 600   78:33 mins

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While it can’t be said that many of us have been waiting impatiently for recordings of music by Bulgaria’s No. 1 composer, Pancho Vladigerov, it’s still good news that two have come along within a relatively short space of time. Etsuko Hirose’s choice ranges wider than Nadejda Vlaeva’s (on Hyperion, reviewed last August); both include all ten Impressions from 1920, but Hirose has the edge by offsetting them against the Bulgarian Suite of 1926, where the proud C major ‘Alla marcia’ and the 5/4 and 7/4 elements show us the proud nationalist rather than the impressionistic cosmopolitan. Vlaeva has a mercurial touch better suited to the chronicle of a love affair, the Gershwin/Hollywood improvisational feel, while Hirose emphasises the Scriabin influence and taps the emotional depth for the elegiac end of a romance.

I learnt much, too, from Hirose’s well-researched note, telling us among other things that the composer’s mother was Russian-Jewish – Shostakovich raved about his Jewish Poem of 1950, that his twin brother was a distinguished violinist and that Max Reinhardt, for whose Berlin theatre Vladigerov wrote incidental music, wanted him to go to America with him. The composer’s fate would have been very different – he survived the Second World War in Bulgaria – and his output maybe less diverse.

David Nice

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