A light music legend is reborn in a beguiling recital
The Strad Issue: October 2022
Description: A light music legend is reborn in a beguiling recital
Musicians: Simon Blendis (violin) Saoko Blendis (piano)
Works: Salon treasures from the Max Jaffa Library
Catalogue number: NIMBUS NI 6428
The success of an enterprise such as this depends on the ability of players trained in the mainstream classical tradition to recreate the relaxed, nonchalant, slightly camp atmosphere of Max Jaffa’s originals as naturally as possible. Fortunately, Simon Blendis has nailed the Jaffa style – the rapid portamento inflections, the narrow vibrato, the sweet tone, the elastic phrasing that seems to bend time itself and the intimate tonal shadings which give the impression he is playing only for you.
Photo gallery: Simon Blendis on owning Max Jaffa’s 1704 Guarneri violin
René Costy’s enchanting Valsette is a near-encyclopaedic compendium of light-music embellishments, all of which Blendis brings off with style and a knowing musical glint in the eye – every phrase pulsates with its own shimmering identity, from a dash of G-string schmaltz to the occasional thrown harmonic and even a touch of spiccato acrobatics. Even when Blendis finds himself in comparison with the masterly Itzhak Perlman, as in Heifetz’s arrangement of Ponce’s Estrellita, he still emerges strongly. Saoko Blendis proves the perfect partner, surfing the tide of these exquisite miniatures with great precision, and the recording balances detail and ambient warmth to perfection.