The Strad Issue: December 2016
Description: Colours of Europe in a delightful violin and guitar recital
Musicians: Nazrin Rashidova (violin), Stanislav Hvartchilkov (guitar)
Composer: Bach, Bizet, Elgar, Halvorsen, Mozart
Catalogue number: FIRST HAND RECORDS FHR 48

In Halvorsen’s Passacaglia, probably the most straightforward of these arrangements, the players skitter delightfully through the increasingly nimble variations, with light, pure playing from Rashidova. Mozart’s orchestra is rendered mellow on the guitar; Rashidova’s playing is almost sotto voce, a beautiful, reflective cantilena. Violin and guitar suit Carmen perfectly, making it more Spanish than ever, and there is lively interchange between the instruments. The first suite has a prevailing air of introspection before ‘Les Toréadors’ bursts forth, with Rashidova in exuberant but disciplined double-stops. The second suite is more extrovert, with Rashidova displaying a wide range of colour – and understated virtuosity – in the ‘Habanera’ and ‘Chanson du Toréador’, and echoes of Waxman’s Carmen Fantasie in the increasingly energetic ‘Danse bohème’. The Bach chorale prelude that follows is like a soothing sorbet.

The duo’s greatest compositional input is in the Carnival of Venice variations, with elements of Paganini, Ernst and Tárrega as well as Irish music, jazz and flamenco employed in constant, witty invention. It isn’t over-egged, although they both get to show off: Rashidova demonstrates a devilish pizzicato. Salut d’amour provides a graceful conclusion to this delightful CD. The sound is warm, with just enough resonance.