Rysanov- -Chang

The Strad Issue: January 2013
Musicians: Maxim Rysanov (viola) Evelyn Chang (piano)
Composer: Brahms, Glinka, Enescu, Bridge, Franck & Tabakova

This recording makes an interesting calling card for the Ukrainian violist Maxim Rysanov, a major prizewinner from both the Tertis and Geneva competitions. Indeed, at his best, he sounds like Yuri Bashmet did in his prime. I enjoyed Brahms’s ‘FAE’ Scherzo and Enescu’s Concert Piece most, while being, for different reasons, less taken with the two major works.

The Glinka Sonata starts off in a somewhat subdued manner but gathers the necessary momentum later on. Unfortunately, both Rysanov and the excellent pianist sound quite impatient in the slow movement, taken much too fast, as if to make it into the finale Glinka never wrote. Many violists have tried their hand at the Franck Sonata but I have yet to hear a wholly convincing arrangement of the solo part. Rysanov gets nearer than most, but the unavoidable changes of octave always disturb the melodic line at one point or other. Strangely enough, he doesn’t take advantage of the C string at the one point in which the original version could do with one (the descending phrase at the very end of the third movement). A Bridge diptych is beautifully done, with an appropriately fiery Allegro appassionato, and Tabakova’s Whispered Lullaby winds down the recital agreeably.

Throughout the whole disc, Rysanov draws an uncommonly sweet sound from his Guadagnini viola (at the Tertis competition he obtained the special prize for the competitor ‘with the most beautiful sound’), using a wide range of vibrato. All this is faithfully captured by the excellent recording.   

Carlos María Solare