Lydia Mordkovitch – Russian Works for Violin & Viola

0 of 5 stars

Kabalevsky
Improvisation, Op.21
Volkonsky
Sonata for Viola and Piano
Khandoshkin
Sonata in G minor for Unaccompanied Violin
Prokofiev
Cinderella – Five Pieces [transcribed Fichtenholz]
Stravinsky
Mavra – Chanson russe
Petrushka – Danse russe [both transcribed Dushkin & the composer]

Lydia Mordkovitch (violin) & Nicholas Walker (piano) with Julian Milford (piano; Stravinsky)

Recorded 3 & 4 October 2008 and 21-23 November 1998 (Stravinsky) in Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk


Reviewed by: Tully Potter

Reviewed: July 2009
CD No: CHANDOS CHAN 10526
Duration: 76 minutes

espressivo, so that the shape of the music almost disappears. The second movement is faster, with the character of a dance, and the finale is a set of variations on a haunting theme – here the violinist could be more precise rhythmically, with better intonation.

In the transcriptions from Prokofiev’s Cinderella, by another Oistrakh pupil, Mikhail Fichtenholz (or in Russian, Fichtengolz), one really does need more lightness: the ‘Waltz’ is like a dancing elephant some of the time. Best here is the fourth piece, ‘Winter Fairy’, but go to Oistrakh – who also recorded all five pieces, three of them twice – and there is no comparison.

Stravinsky’s ‘Chanson russe’ (from “Mavra”) has been most often heard in recent years in Yuri Bashmet’s adaptation for the viola. Mordkovitch does it quite nicely but in the Petrushka piece (‘Danse russe’) she is very astringent and could be more precise – even a decade ago her playing was on the blowsy side.

Chandos’s presentation is not very helpful but if you read MacDonald’s notes, all will become clear. The recordings are all too lifelike, alas. In the last resort you will have to balance your hunger for the repertoire with your own estimation of the violinist.

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