Gringolts Plays Stravinsky

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STRAVINSKY: Pastorale for Violin & Winds. Le Baiser de la Fée: Ballad; Divertimento. Pulcinella: Suite Italienne. Apollon musagète: Variation d’Apollon. Violin Concerto.* Élégie. Tango (arr. Dushkin) / Ilya Gringolts, vln; Peter Laul, pn; Casey Hill, ob; Scott MacLeod, Eng-hn; Juan Ferrer, cl; Steve Harriswangler, bsn (Pastorale); *Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia; *Dima Slobodeniouk, cond / Bis 2275

This is the second volume of Ilya Gringolts playing the violin music of Stravinsky. The music presented here is largely relaxed and relatively tonal; the Pastorale originally dates from 1907 (arranged in 1933) and of course, the excerpts from The Fairy’s Kiss and Pulcinella are adapted from earlier music (Tchaikovsky and Pergolesi). It’s interesting to hear the latter arranged for violin and piano, but by and large I like the full orchestral version better. Gringolts is a fine violinist with a lovely tone and nice styling, but not individual enough to give you more than what is in the score.

He does, however, provide great energy in the fast movements such as the Tarantella and Danses suisses, accenting the rhythms perfectly.

Gringolts’ performance of the Violin Concerto compares favorably to the old recording by Arthur Grumiaux in its lift and stylishness, but surprisingly, conductor Dima Slobodeniouk doesn’t seem to get into the spirit nearly as well as Frieder Weissmann (Grumiaux’s conductor) or especially Christoph von Dohnányi, who gave a splendid performance of it a few years back with the excellent Gil Shaham. It’s a curious combination of warmth and humor (Gringolts) and cool efficiency (Slobodeniouk). Only in the last movement (“Capriccio”) does the conductor seem to finally wake up and realize what good music this is.

I was impressed by Gringolts’ sensitive performance of the Élégie for solo violin—a masterful job. And in the Tango, he and pianist Peter Laul give a sensuous, relaxed performance, one of the best on the CD.

Overall, an interesting disc to hear if not a vital one to own.

—© 2018 Lynn René Bayley

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