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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67642
Recording details: September 2008
City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow, Scotland
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon & Will Brown
Release date: February 2009
Total duration: 19 minutes 24 seconds

'The Arensky is a delicious and unfairly neglected confection … I recommend it to anyone who loves the violin concerto of Tchaikovsky … it's lots of fun, and Gringolts dispatches the tricky passages with great aplomb' (The Mail on Sunday)

'These two products of Russia's Silver Age go well together on disc … Ilya Gringolts is a fine advocate for both works, combining brilliance and idiomatic sensitivity, and enjoying fine support from Volkov and the BBC Scottish … in short, another superbly conceived and truthfully recorded addition to Hyperion's Romantic Violin Concerto series' (Gramophone)

'Gringolts' fluency, virtuosity and lyrical intensity have been much and rightly admired and this record I'm almost tempted to say is his best yet. He is expertly and sensitively partnered by Ilan Volkov and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This latest disc of Arensky's Violin Concerto, superbly played by Ilya Gringolts and the BBC Scottish, sets the seal on a work that merits far more attention than it gets … in some ways it emulates Tchaikovsky's concerto in its dramatic thrust and the resourceful, Romantic flourish of its solo part … [Taneyev's Suite de Concert] as this fine performance shows, Taneyev's legendary thoroughness in his compositional procedures by no means stifled his creative imagination, and the suite fully complements Arensky's concerto in its fund of ideas' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Gringolts is a persuasive champion. He tosses off the acrobatic fretwork with breath-taking ease. His tone can be rich and dark or delicate and shimmering, and remains flawlessly pure at all times. Best of all, he enters into the heart-on-sleeve quality of the music… these inspiring violin works allow Gingolts to display his stylistic versatillity along with his tonal palette and command of the stratosphere' (Strings, USA)

Violin Concerto in A minor, Op 54
1891; dedicated to Leopold Auer

Allegro  [5'22]
Tempo di valse  [4'39]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Violin Concerto in A minor Op 54 was composed in 1891, but not published until several years later, having undergone a process of careful revision with the help of Leopold Auer. The work is structurally quite original, being cast in a single movement that nonetheless falls into four clear sections, an exposition and recapitulation enclosing a slow movement and an intermezzo in waltz time (which themselves flank a brief central Allegro development section). This clear and concise structure is one that allows Arensky’s gift for melody and pleasing contrasts of musical character to shine forth.

The concerto opens Allegro with a shapely but somewhat anxious and elegiac principal theme, expounded in the orchestra and shortly taken up in elaborated form by the violin. A chromatic transition leads to a sweeter second subject, poco meno mosso, before the first theme returns, brilliantly decorated by the violin and provoking some dramatic orchestral writing before the solo part soars up to a high trilled G that prompts a cadence into C, the relative major of A minor. Led off by the horn, here unfolds the lyrical Adagio non troppo that serves as a slow movement. A folk-like theme is decoratively embellished by the soloist and provides a background to increasingly elaborate virtuoso writing.

The concerto’s opening theme returns and initiates a very brief ‘development’ section with some bold orchestral writing. A short cadenza, played con sordino, leads into the Tempo di valse, whose elegant main theme is related to the second subject of the exposition. In this expansive and captivating section Arensky allows the violinist full rein to dominate the scene and indulge in such effects as strummed pizzicati and harmonics. Fragments of the 4/4 Allegro begin to infiltrate the 3/4 waltz-time, and a full recapitulation of the opening section’s material gets underway, with dramatic orchestral outbursts and imperious octave writing in the solo part. Both main themes are reprised and lead to a weighty coda characterized by brilliant violin writing that issues in a bravura cadenza and continuous, scintillating figuration up to the decisive final bars.

from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2009

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