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Roslavets: Violin Concertos / Ibragimova, Volkov, Bbc Scottish So


Release Date: 11/11/2008 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67637   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Nikolai A. Roslavets
Performer:  Alina Ibragimova
Conductor:  Ilan Volkov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



ROSLAVETS Violin Concertos: No. 1; No. 2 Alina Ibragimova (vn); Ilan Volkov, cond; BBC Scottish SO HYPERION 67637 (57:26)


Increasingly, we are finding hidden gems in the music of the Soviet “formalists”—those composers whose work was condemned by the state, and who were ostracized and even expunged from the history books. Chandos is recording Weinberg’s symphonies and concertos, while the Hyperion label seems to have adopted Nikolai Roslavets (1881–1944). This is its third CD of Read more his music, and in many ways it is the most exciting.


In the 1920s, Roslavets was a committed revolutionary in his political leanings, his artistic circle of friends, and his music. His first concerto (1925) is a forceful work of unashamed modernism. In the introduction to the first movement, the solo violin soars above a shimmering accompaniment much as it does in the contemporary First Concerto of Szymanowski. Influences are interestingly varied: the third movement with its double-stopped theme sounds like a rethink of the finale of the Brahms, but longer and wilder. Early Soviet Brahms, if you will. The second movement features chromatic harmony derived from Scriabin, but whereas Scriabin always remained a 19th-century composer, Roslavets’s work is planted firmly in the 20th.


The composer’s idiosyncratic, highly controlled orchestral palette is familiar from the Chamber Symphony and the early tone poem, In the Hours of the New Moon (on a highly recommended Hyperion CD with the same performers). Roslavets’s colors are delicately pointed; his textures are often spare. An assured use of the lower brass instruments and the piano are notable features of his orchestration. Above all, the solo part is idiomatic and full of technical challenges. Roslavets was himself a violinist; his violin-writing exhibits the same panache that Prokofiev brought to the piano. There is a substantial solo cadenza in the first concerto, and a lightly accompanied mini-cadenza in the second.


The modernism of Roslavets’s early work was soon frowned upon. The Violin Concerto No. 2 of 1936 was written after the beleaguered composer returned to Moscow, having performed menial jobs in Uzbekistan, hoping to resurrect his creative career. His personal voice is more assured, although the musical language is simpler harmonically, and the work less ambitious in scope than its predecessor. Nevertheless, it is filled with lovely, detailed moments. Both concertos were thought to be lost (although a piano reduction existed in the case of the first), but were rediscovered—the second quite recently.


The composer never heard anyone play his Second Concerto, but this rendition surely would have been his ideal. Both performances are wonderful. Young Russian violinist Ibragimova is pointed, expressive, and easily able to meet every technical and emotional challenge. Under Volkov, the composer’s textures are as clear as a bell, and the sound is well balanced and punchy. I should also mention the informative liner notes by Calum MacDonald (which I have brazenly mined). This is a distinguished release in every way, and a joyous resurrection of some great music. Happily recommended.


FANFARE: Phillip Scott
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Violin no 1 by Nikolai A. Roslavets
Performer:  Alina Ibragimova (Violin)
Conductor:  Ilan Volkov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; Russia 
2.
Concerto for Violin no 2 by Nikolai A. Roslavets
Performer:  Alina Ibragimova (Violin)
Conductor:  Ilan Volkov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; Moscow 

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