This programme offers immaculate bravura performances of a fairly wide range of encore pieces, some of which suit Spivakov admirably but others are made less completely appealing by the player's apparent determination to avoid sentiment at all costs. Thus he sets off into Elgar's Salut d'amor with gusto, where a little more lingering would have produced charm. Kreisler's Liebesfreud and Liebesleid are smartly done and the Rachmaninov song which gives the disc its title is played with a sensitive 'vocal' line and full tone, but fails to be really touching. Spivakov seems completely at home in the three Tchaikovsky pieces, the first two gently nostalgic and the Valse-scherzo quite dashing. Massenet's famous "Meditation" isRead more beautifully phrased, with a total absence of gush (but it can sound much more luscious) and La Capricieuse is deftly thrown off. Then again in Cyril Scott's Lotus Land one feels Spivakov's ardour and this performance is quite memorable in its way. Schubert's Valse sentimentale is charmingly innocent, but undoubtedly the highlight of the recital is the set of four Romantic Pieces of Dvorak (the third particularly touching in its simplicity of line—it has a quite lovely tune).
The recital ends with a curious birthday joke which Brahms played on his friend Joachim in the form of a waltz-hymn ("in Veneration of the Great Joachim") for two violins and double-bass. There is a false start (accurately mirrored here) and various mistakes and inaccurate tunings, which in performance brought angry comments from the unsuspecting violinist. Afterwards Brahms put all the 'errors' into the music parts. But to modern ears used to all kinds of 'wrong note' dissonances the joke falls a bit flat and one is left instead admiring Brahms's rather charming melody plus a few quirky additions. Throughout, Sergei Bezrodny accompanies most sympathetically; indeed at times his introductions set a more romantic mood than is then forthcoming from his partner. He is especially good in the Dvorak.
The RCA recording gives the violin striking presence, providing a fairly bright spotlight, and is certainly kind to the pianist.
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