The Strad Issue: January 2014
Description: A rewarding collection of musical lollipops from the operatic world
Musicians: Philippe Quint (violin) Lily Maisky (piano)
Composer: Falla, Tchaikovsky, Donizetti, Gluck, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Strauss, Gershwin, Saint-Saëns, Humperdinck, Raff

Thirteen tracks of violin-and-piano arrangements, mainly devoted to excerpts from popular operas, do not make up the type of programme that normally grabs my attention, but this one is so special I urge you to hear it. It comes from the Russian-born violinist Philippe Quint, whose multi-award-winning recording of William Schuman’s Violin Concerto back in 2001 brought him to international attention. Here, in a very different musical world, his violin sings with a beauty few vocalists could emulate, a faultless technique placed at the service of an innate musicality.

The sadness conveyed in Lensky’s aria from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, or the quiet contemplation of Richard Strauss’s Morgen, are foils to the humour he brings to Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s quirky paraphrase on Rossini’s ‘Largo al factotum’.

He opens the disc with a vivacious account of the Spanish Dance from Falla’s La vida breve, and also revels in the passages of virtuosity that Jascha Heifetz offers in his arrangement of Gershwin’s short suite from Porgy and Bess, The French-born pianist Lily Maisky is a very positive partner throughout, though I find the rather monochrome recording of her instrument in sharp contrast to Quint’s abundance of colours.

David Denton