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Franck: Violin Sonata; Ysaÿe / Ivanov, Blumenthal


Release Date: 10/31/2006 
Label:  Naive   Catalog #: 102   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  César FranckEugène YsaÿeRafaël D'Haene
Performer:  Yossif IvanovDaniel Blumenthal
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

In short, Ivanov is the most impressive young player I’ve heard in my 16 years of reviewing for Fanfare; and accordingly, he receives the most urgent recommendation.

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FRANCK Violin Sonata. YSAŸE Solo Violin Sonatas: No. 5; No. 6. D’HAENE Violin Sonata Yossif Ivanov (vn); Daniel Blumenthal (pn) Read more class="BULLET12">• AMBROISIE 102 (67:09)


Yossif Ivanov, a student of Zakhar Bron, won second prize in the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 2005 before he’d reached the age of 20, but he doesn’t sound like a mere competition winner. He produces from the 1717 Piatti Stradivari on which he plays a tone as strong as Stern’s, as buttery as Oistrakh’s, and as elegant as Milstein’s. The engineers represent that sumptuousness faithfully, but they also caught in their field other sounds that suspiciously suggest snorts and heavy breathing. But the performances themselves almost compensate for these. In Franck’s war-horse, Ivanov’s expressive use of portamento reveals what he makes the listener believe to be new insights but may in fact be only a very strong illumination of the already familiar. Heifetz’s recording of the work with Rubinstein has been proposed as the very best, but there are many others that vie with it—Thibaud’s, Oistrakh’s, and Stern’s come to mind. Still, I don’t remember being so taken aback since I heard the Sonata for the first time, live (Henri Aubert), generations ago. In my experience, the torrential passages at the end of the second movement haven’t ever sounded quite like this (although I thought they were when Aubert played them). And every gesture in the third movement seems, like Robin Hood’s arrow, to reach the bull’s-eye of its dramatic target. Blumenthal plays the Sonata, especially the later movements, with comprehension and flair (as he does everything in the program); but Ivanov’s simply a juggernaut. At times his violin seems to strain to accommodate the terrifying vision he channels. As this vision unfolds, Franck’s Sonata becomes a veritable journey of the soul. At last, in the final pages of the canonic last movement, Ivanov and Blumenthal pierce the clouds to reveal heaven’s own light.


Ysaÿe’s solo sonatas generally fuse virtuosity and quasi-impressionistic expression. Ivanov chose the last two, he explains in a personal note, because they’re relatively neglected. The Fifth may be the most graphic, representing a sunrise in its first movement. Ricci’s reading of this movement—and of the sonatas in general—hasn’t, to my mind, been surpassed, and it doesn’t seem as though Ivanov’s slightly more mannered reading has quite equaled it, either. Ivanov may have portrayed a majestic sunrise—but it’s one that lacks the full measure of Ricci’s grandeur. I remember thinking, from my brief exposure to them, that Rudolf Werthen’s readings of the sonatas set benchmarks by which the outré could actually be calibrated. Ivanov is not mannered in that way, but quirky like, say, Vengerov, in his tendency to analyze passages into fragmentary gestures. The Sixth Sonata, Spanish in flavor, seems more convincing: in this performance, its recitative-like opening commands attention with unprecedented authority. In passagework, Ivanov fashions every note so that it will communicate individually—Heifetz, Oistrakh, Milstein, Stern, and Francescatti routinely did this in whatever they played, but such attention to detail seems more recently to have been sacrificed to a sort of chaste technical crispness that reduces mountains to molehills and freshets to rivulets. Ivanov has reopened the floodgates.


Ivanov relates that he had intended to include Chausson’s Poème in the program, but decided on Rafaël D’Haene’s Sonata instead. The Belgian D’Haene, born in 1943, composed the Sonata, according to the notes, in 2003. It’s wrought from modern materials, yet its dependence on expressive gestures makes it accessible, though it’s hardly tonal. Ivanov’s approach, warm yet riveting, should make a believer out of the most conservative listener. I’ve often noted how the impact of Stern’s eloquence in stringing together the gestures of Enesco’s Third Sonata made of an evening’s performance a memory to cherish for a lifetime. Although a listener can’t watch Ivanov play D’Haene’s piece, his similar approach creates a virtual image without the aid of a computer.


Here’s the future of violin-playing, if it’s to have one: a return to the powerful expression of the Golden Age. In his dramatic photo, Ivanov looks a bit like Jan Kubelík; but however polished he may be technically, Ivanov’s magic lies in his power of persuasion. That’s what characterized Milstein, Oistrakh, and Francescatti; and in Ivanov, it seems to have returned to the studio, but represented in a vibrant recorded sound of which those earlier violinists could hardly have dreamed. In short, Ivanov is the most impressive young player I’ve heard in my 16 years of reviewing for Fanfare ; and accordingly, he receives the most urgent recommendation.


FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata for Violin and Piano in A major, M 8 by César Franck
Performer:  Yossif Ivanov (Violin), Daniel Blumenthal (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886; France 
Date of Recording: 01/2006 
Venue:  Tibor Varga Foundation, Sion, Switzerlan 
Length: 28 Minutes 12 Secs. 
2.
Sonatas (6) for Violin solo, Op. 27: no 5 in G major by Eugène Ysaÿe
Performer:  Yossif Ivanov (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1924; Belgium 
Date of Recording: 01/2006 
Venue:  Tibor Varga Foundation, Sion, Switzerlan 
Length: 10 Minutes 6 Secs. 
3.
Sonatas (6) for Violin solo, Op. 27: no 6 in E major by Eugène Ysaÿe
Performer:  Yossif Ivanov (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1924; Belgium 
Date of Recording: 01/2006 
Venue:  Tibor Varga Foundation, Sion, Switzerlan 
Length: 7 Minutes 3 Secs. 
4.
Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 26 by Rafaël D'Haene
Performer:  Yossif Ivanov (Violin), Daniel Blumenthal (Piano)
Written: 2003; Brussels, Belgium 
Date of Recording: 01/2006 
Venue:  Tibor Varga Foundation, Sion, Switzerlan 
Length: 21 Minutes 42 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Violin Sonata in A major, M. 8: I. Allegretto ben moderato
Violin Sonata in A major, M. 8: II. Allegro
Violin Sonata in A major, M. 8: III. Recitativo: Fantasia
Violin Sonata in A major, M. 8: IV. Allegretto poco mosso
Violin Sonata in G major, Op. 27, No. 5: L'aurore
Violin Sonata in G major, Op. 27, No. 5: Danse rustique
Violin Sonata in E major, Op. 27, No. 6: Violin Sonata No. 6 in E major, Op. 27, No. 6
Violin Sonata: I. Largo
Violin Sonata: II. Allegro vivo
Violin Sonata: III. Adagio di molto
Violin Sonata: IV. Allegro vivo

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