David Nadien, violin, in works of HANDEL, MOZART, ST.-SAENS, SARASATE & CHAUSSON – Cembal d'amour

by | Sep 30, 2011 | Classical Reissue Reviews

David Nadien, violin = HANDEL-HALVORSEN: Passacaglia for Violin and Viola in G Minor;  MOZART: Duo for Violin and Viola in B-flat Major, K. 424; SAINT-SAENS: Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 28; SARASATE: Navarra for Two Violin, Op. 33; CHAUSSON: Poeme for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 25 – David Nadien, violin/ Barry Finclair, violin and viola/ Jonathan Feldman, piano/ American Ballet Theater Orchestra/ Akiro Endo – Cembal d’amour CD 161, 53:58 [Distr. By Qualiton] ****:
Producer and pianist Mordecai Shehori continues to celebrate the rare art of American violin virtuoso David Nadien (b. 1926) with more unearthed treasures, these almost exclusively from the 17 April 1977 recital with L’Ensemble, New York. The Chausson Poeme dates from 10 July 1974 for the Ballet “Le Jardin aux Lilacs” given in New York.  Barry Finclair, a former member of the New York Philharmonic, has been active with L’Ensemble since 1973.
The strong likeness of the Nadien style to that of his eminent colleague Jascha Heifetz finds instant confirmation in the Halvorsen arrangement of the Handel Passacaglia for violin and viola, an old Heifetz staple. The virtually “symphonic” sound that Nadien and fellow Barry Sinclair emanate gathers increasing momentum until the final chord, when a resounding “Wow!” thrills through the hall. If the Handel took us back to the days of Heifetz and Primrose, so too will the Mozart B-flat Major Duo evoke that collaboration or the equally chaste efforts of Joseph and Lillian Fuchs. The sheer easy finesse of the parts both astonishes and captivates us, especially when we recall Mozart’s natural fondness for his chosen instrument, the viola. The lyricism projected by Nadien in the lovely Andante cantabile combines simplicity and sincerity directly, without false glitter. A natural harmony and rhythmic sympathy exists in the ensuing Andante grazioso, a theme and six variations that demand fiercely accurate articulation and seamless fluency while maintaining consistent tempo. The “present” sound of the performance decidedly proves electric and mesmeric, wickedly engrossing.
Although I always prefer the Saint-Saens Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso with orchestral accompaniment, the keyboard work of Jonathan Feldman does not diminish the flagrant virtuosity and liquid finesse of the performance, whose intensity and volume more than meet the occasion. Nadien appears almost glib in his throwing off of violinist effects, but the security of his runs, trills, and detached bowing quite mesmerizes even the veteran to this ubiquitous showpiece. The sultry eroticism of the central section invokes Saint-Saens’ favorite visions of Algeria or Moorish fantasies. The peroration proves most remarkable, a savage blend of Spanish rhythms and evocative colors from the keyboard, harmonized with feral energy and totally confident aplomb. Even before the last chord, the audience has risen in excited approbation. So, too, the ensuing Navarre for two violin and piano by the Spanish virtuoso Sarasate, an exercise in synchronized bowing, plucking, and blizzards of gypsy effects the two Oistrakhs used to relish. You know well before that the audience will react in near hysterics at the final notes.
The 1896 Chausson Poeme has its own program, after Turgenev as it were, a tender lyric of love spurned for a marriage of convenience. The music, however, never descends into morbid melancholy or bathos; rather, it rises and falls in a series of dreamy tensions hinting at both Massenet and Wagner. After the dynamic pungency of the L’Ensemble recital, the acoustic of the American Ballet Theater seems relatively distant, but the noble wistfulness and lyric tautness of the performance keep us enthralled. Nadien understates the glowing peroration as the orchestra swells to that “passionate melody in sinuous coils” that rises in admonition to those who forsake their amorous destiny. The orchestra, rather explodes in ardent epiphany, whilst the solo violin shimmers and fades into a spectacularly erotic mist rife with lost possibilities. Don’t miss this possibility: seize this disc with both hands!
—Gary Lemco

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