Notes and Editorial Reviews
An attractive, wholly merited salute to Accardo.
Shortly after Dynamic released a big box devoted to the artistry of violinist and violist Luigi Alberto Bianchi there comes a 9 CD box devoted to his colleague and erstwhile recording partner, Salvatore Accardo. Indeed one disc - that of the Rolla duets - is common to both sets.
The box is a tribute to Accardo on his 70
th birthday, but it can’t be considered a retrospective, more of a snapshot of certain, mainly festival, performances that have been rather heterogeneously yoked together. Fortunately we can hear his long-time collaborator, Bruno Canino, and also double bassist Franco Petracchi. There is also the pleasure of encountering two Paganini pieces extracted from the first LP Accardo made, back in 1959.
Paganinis come on the first disc and they’re the
Sonata a preghiera and
I Palpiti, both despatched with finesse and control. We also hear the world première recording (back in 1960) of the fiendish
Variations on the Barucabà Theme which was also recorded when the violinist was still in his late teens. Though the notes don’t mention it, the bulk of the chamber performances included in the set derive from Accardo’s spring festival held in Naples. It seems to have been something of a mini-Marlboro, and the string quartet around which the performances satellite consists of Accardo, Margaret Batjer (violin), Toby Hoffman (viola), and Peter Wiley (cello). Batjer is a concertmaster and Marlboro returnee, Hoffman is a veteran of the Seattle, Aspen and Marlboro festivals, and Wiley is famed for his association with the Beaux Arts Trio and Guarneri Quartet. The quartet Accardo organised thus has the firmest of foundations and considerable experience.
Chausson’s Concerto for violin, piano and string quartet means that the four are joined by violinist Ida Levin and Bruno Canino. This is a notably sonorous and well integrated ensemble with some emotive ‘soloing’ and a determined tempo for the finale. It’s coupled with
Saint-Saëns’ First Violin Sonata. The ethos is not particularly Gallic but Accardo and Canino ensure that the music’s contrasts are adhered to and projected. They are excellent in the finale, a movement where I have seen two well-known fiddlers drop their bows!
?ák’s Quintet Op.77 sees Franco Petracchi add his bass weight. The results are very persuasive, well accented and creditable; a warm reading, affectionate and enjoyable. The
Terzetto in C major (two violins and viola only) invariably brings out the best in performers. The highlight movement of the four in this performance is undoubtedly the
Dvo?ák’s Op.81 Piano Quintet they were joined, inevitably, by Canino once more. Here one feels a slight want of rhythmic discipline from time to time, and there are occasional exaggerations phrasally which sap the direction of the music-making. Coming to it fresh, you would enjoy the textured playing and the quartet’s sonority, but closer listening might suggest an unsettled response from the group. Accardo plays the
Romantic Pieces with too artful a pose. He’s also far too slow, most especially in the
Allegro moderato; just listen to Josef Suk to hear how it should be done.
The festival quartet essay
Verdi’s Quartet. This is a work that always surprises people when they hear it. They’re surprised because it’s so enjoyable and so competently written. There’s real grace in this performance of the
Andantino in particular but it’s a fine performance all-round. It’s coupled with
Borodin’s Second, intelligently contoured but by no means offering the last word in collective tonal warmth.
The only chance we have to hear Accardo the concerto soloist comes in disc six, in which he performs
Ginastera’s weird Concerto, accompanied by the Hopkins Centre Orchestra, Congregation of the Arts, Dartmouth conducted by Mario Di Bonaventura. This is the concerto that opens with a four and a half minute solo cadenza and takes one on a violinistic exegesis via studies in chords, thirds, arpeggios and harmonics and the like. The bit I always like is the spooky quarter-tone slow section but I admire the resolution that the orchestra brings to the longest movement, the Adagio for 22 soloists. It’s a live recording. The other item is
Bartók’s Op. posthumous Sonata, a deliciously warm and ultra-romantic affair, far removed from the norm.
A recital occupies disc seven. Accardo brandishes his 1743 Guarneri to run through, with Laura Manzini this time, some of what Louis Armstrong used to call ‘good old good ones’. His elegant slides grace
Píse? lásky and there’s a dashing take on
Variations on a theme of Corelli we hear, not the more familiar Kreisler. Don’t overlook his astute
La Capricieuse where proportions are perfectly judged; he was an outstanding interpreter of the Concerto. People don’t seem to play
Hubay’s pieces in recital these days. I wonder why not? Accardo plays
Zephyr gorgeously. There is also the chance to hear
Szymanowski’s take on three Paganini Caprices; these are, at least, played a bit but seldom as well as by Accardo.
Paganini’s duets for violin and bassoon are great fun. It helps that the violinist is joined by Claudio Gonella whose burbling contributions are delightful. Despite the seeming incongruity of pitting fiddle and bassoon, the three duets work very well in a Laurel and Hardy sort of a way. If you remain unconvinced try the operatic-dramatic overture and aria-cum-duet approach enshrined in the first movement of the Second Duet, or the healthily rich
Larghetto of the Third.
Rolla’s Duets are comparably attractive works in which he and Bianchi make a richly communicative duo. As earlier noted if you’ve invested in the Bianchi box, which I’ve already reviewed, you’ll find the Rolla pieces duplicated here.
This box is an attractive, wholly merited salute to Accardo. It comes with a small biographical booklet. Ideally a retrospective would bring together the violinist’s concerto and sonata recordings, the better to suggest just what an admirable musician he is, and how enriched the discography has been by him these many years.
-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International