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The Virtuoso Viola - Chopin, Faure, Ravel, Debussy, Bach, Etc / Vardi, Carey

Release Date: 07/29/2008 
Label:  Cembal D'amour   Catalog #: 134   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Frédéric ChopinPeter Ilyich TchaikovskyGabriel FauréClaude Debussy,   ... 
Performer:  Emanuel VardiNorman Carey
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

THE VIRTUOSO VIOLA Emanuel Vardi (va); Norman Carey (pn) CEMBAL D’AMOUR 134 (74:27)

VARDI Suite. SERLY Rhapsody. BACH (arr. Vardi) Violin Partita in d: Chaconne. CHOPIN (arr. Vardi) Nocturne in c?. Read more class="COMPOSER12">TCHAIKOVSKY (arr. Vardi) Souvenir d’un lieu cher: Mélodie. FAURÉ (arr. Vardi) Après un rêve. DEBUSSY (arr. Vardi) La plus que lente. RAVEL (arr. Vardi) Pièce en forme d’un habanera. FALLA (arr. Vardi) Canciones populares españolas. MOSZKOWKSY (arr. Vardi) Guitarre. KREUTZER (arr. Vardi) Étude No. 2.

From the intrepid violist-explorer who trudged laboriously through the snowy mountain regions of Paganini’s caprices comes yet another previously recorded performance, this time (mainly) of transcriptions, from 1988. As have so many violinists, violist Vardi comments in his notes on the way in which audiences always waited for the second half of a recital program, which usually consisted of short pieces. But, Vardi relates, for the viola, few of these bonbons exist; hence the transcriptions.

Bach’s Chaconne could hardly be classified as an encore piece; and Vardi’s opening chords make it clear that the work doesn’t need to sound ungainly on the lower-pitched instrument, even though he’s transcribed the whole thing down a fifth to G Minor, ostensibly to preserve the violin’s fingering. Vardi’s bowing sounds incisive in across-the-string passages (he claims not to approach the instrument with preconceived ideas about how it should sound), though the arpeggiated sections reveal, though not disturbingly so, the instrument’s inherently balkier response. At 14:14, Vardi takes no prisoners; and his own noble but flexible musicianship combines with the added weight of Bach’s already bottomless masterpiece being heard at lower pitch to create an especially strong impression of gravitas . Perhaps some may quibble at his occasionally rolling chords upwards then back to the bass note, a whiplashing practice (even more a target of scorn than simply rolling the chords downward) upon which some frown. But that remains a quibble in the case of so towering a performance, one that could justify the entire price of the CD all by itself. The sound of the instrument simply disappears in the splendor of Vardi’s conception.

Milstein transcribed Chopin’s Nocturne for violin, publishing it with maddeningly few suggestions about how he might have fingered it (if he ever considered such things ahead of time). Vardi pulls out of the box all the expressive devices a violinist might use, but also includes some nuances of his own. Only the high double-stops sound less than perfectly assured. If Tchaikovsky’s “Mélodie,” Fauré’s Après un rêve , and Moszkowski’s Guitarre (with its brilliant flashes) don’t reach this level of silken insinuation, they sound idiomatic and suggestive in Vardi’s transcriptions. Heifetz used to play Debussy’s La plus que lente in Roques’s arrangement, but although he may have reached a whiter heat at the climax, he hardly made the opening and ending more suggestive than does Vardi. Paul Kochanski transcribed Falla’s Canciones populares españolas for violin, but few violinists find in it Vardi’s smoldering sensuality. Vardi’s very unsquare transcription of Kreutzer’s notorious Étude brings it a charm never associated with it.

Vardi is so successful in transcriptions that the original works on the program, Vardi’s Suite (based on American folk tunes), slightly dissonant and cheeky, and Tibor Serly’s brief three-movement Rhapsody , by turns impassioned and dance-like, almost seem anticlimactic, though the viola speaks very earnestly and—though Vardi might not like to hear it—characteristically, throughout. (Violist Serly is also known for taking an early (1949) stab at completing Bartók’s Viola Concerto.)

The recorded sound is resonant and clear, and Norman Carey provides sympathetic and at times (as in Falla’s suite) highly atmospheric piano accompaniments; but Vardi is the star all the way—an especially significant accomplishment as he had reached almost his mid-seventies when he recorded the recital. Tonally and musically, he seemed still at the top of the game—an extraordinary achievement that should impress those who admire the way Milstein held up through his long career. In the last analysis, I’d rather listen to this disc than to myriad others of similar repertoire played by callow (and many not so callow) violinists. Vardi talks about needing to polish each of the short pieces; he’s surely done that, to a high gloss, without ever sacrificing intimacy or charm. And Vardi’s stunning performance of the Chaconne could be taken as a model by absolutely anyone. What’s impressive here isn’t the virtuoso viola, but the virtuoso Vardi. Urgently recommended to all kinds of listeners.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

Nocturne for Piano in C sharp minor, B 49 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Emanuel Vardi (Viola), Norman Carey (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830; Poland 
Notes: The attribution of this composition to Chopin is doubtful. 
Souvenir d'un lieu cher, Op. 42: no 3, Mélodie by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Emanuel Vardi (Viola), Norman Carey (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Russia 
Après un rêve, Op. 7 no 1 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Emanuel Vardi (Viola), Norman Carey (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; France 
La plus que lente by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Emanuel Vardi (Viola), Norman Carey (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910; France 
Pièce en forme de Habañera by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Emanuel Vardi (Viola), Norman Carey (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907; France 
Canciones populares españolas (7) by Manuel de Falla
Performer:  Emanuel Vardi (Viola), Norman Carey (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1915; Spain 
Partita for Violin solo no 2 in D minor, BWV 1004: 5th movement, Chaconne by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Emanuel Vardi (Viola), Norman Carey (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Pieces (2) for Piano, Op. 45: no 2, Guitarre by Moritz Moszkowski
Performer:  Emanuel Vardi (Viola), Norman Carey (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Germany 
Études ou caprices (42) for Violin solo: Étude no 2 by Rodolphe Kreutzer
Performer:  Emanuel Vardi (Viola), Norman Carey (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1796; France 
Suite by Emanuel Vardi
Performer:  Emanuel Vardi (Viola), Norman Carey (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Rhapsody for Viola and Orchestra by Tibor Serly
Performer:  Emanuel Vardi (Viola), Norman Carey (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; USA 

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