The Strad Issue: January 2009
Musicians: Vadim Gluzman (violin) Angela Yoffe (piano)
Composer: Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Medtner, Francescatti, Schumann, Kreisler, Ries, Halffter, Wieniawski, Gardner, Rota, Bock–Williams, Bloch & Ravel
With the sonorous tone of his 1690 ‘Leopold Auer’ Stradivari and his dazzling technical dexterity, Vadim Gluzman makes violin playing seem effortless. He performs this programme as if it comprises nothing but imperishable masterworks.
Gluzman starts with a bang – a brilliant, witty account of Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s challenging concert transcription of themes from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. He also offers a powerfully coherent, intensely dramatic reading of Bloch’s Nigun, making it seem as improvisatory as Rota’s Improvisso. Also in the mix are an ebullient rendition of Zino Francescatti’s Polka op.22, a breathtaking account of Wieniawski’s Faust Fantasy, and a subtle reading of Kreisler’s exotic La gitana. Finally, Gluzman dispatches Ravel’s Tzigane with true gypsy spontaneity, fire and élan.
Not all the pieces performed are genuine firecrackers. More relaxed, for example, are Schumann’s Träumerei and Heifetz’s arrangement of Medtner’s Fairy Tale op.20 no.1, both displaying Gluzman’s honeyed tone, seamless lyricism and expressive phrasing, even if his extremely free interpretation of Schumann’s miniature seems continually to stop and start. He adds much subtlety of rubato in Franz Ries’s provocative La capricciosa and performs Samuel Gardner’s Prelude no.1 op.14, Szeryng’s arrangement of Halffter’s Habanera and his father Michael Gluzman’s arrangement of an excerpt from John Williams and Jerry Bock’s Fiddler on the Roof with appropriate character and style.
The recording is vivid and resonant, and Gluzman and his pianist wife, Angela Yoffe, enjoy an excellent artistic rapport throughout. Given the disc’s title, Horst Scholz’s reference to Leopold Mozart’s 1756 singing tutor in his booklet notes provides the only damp squib.