Ida Haendel, violin – The Historic Return to Chelm = Works of BACH, TARTINI, WIENIAWSKI, SARASATE, TCHAIKOVSKY, BRUCH – with Capella Cracov/ Stanislaw Galonski – VAI

by | Aug 16, 2007 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

Ida Haendel, violin – The Historic Return to Chelm  =  BACH: Chaconne from Partita No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004; Andante from Sonata No. 2 in A Minor, BWV 1003; TARTINI: “The Devil’s Trill” Sonata in G Minor (arr. Orchestra); WIENIAWSKI: Legende in G Minor, Op. 17; Polonaise in D Major, Op. 4; SARASATE: Zigeunerweisen for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 20; TCHAIKOVSKY: Danse Russe from Swan Lake (ar. Haendel); BRUCH: Kol Nidrei – Ida Handel, violin/Capella Cracoviensis/ Stanislaw Galonski, conductor – VAI CD VAIA 1264, 72:01 ****:

Veteran musician Ida Haendel (b. 1928) returned to her native Chelm, Poland for a special concert 20 May 2006 at the Chelm Culture Center, celebrating her childhood home where, seventy-five years prior, she had picked up a violin to play a tune she had heard her mother singing. With her astonishing technique hardly diminished, Haendel proceeds to deliver a varied, bravura program that combines her native Polish-Jewish roots with her long career of classical, mainstream repertory.

Haendel opens with what has become her calling-card, the Bach Chaconne in D Minor. Though one can detect an occasional slurred note, the piercing intonation and musical insight persists, as she negotiates a performance both studied and high-tension. There exist no sags in the musical line, no sign of musical fatigue. Haendel’s tone has always been penetrating, her intonation perfect, and her volume colossal. She neither slows down her pace nor refingers brilliant passages to simplify them. The rasping, nervous power of her instrument combines with the clean, articulate sound of the Capella Cracoviensis to produce luxuriant harmonies in Tartini and Wieniawski. Rarely has the middle section of the Wieniawski Legende basked in so much erotic harmony. The applause upon the last chord of the orchestral version of the Tartini “Devil’s Trill” goes on and on, erupting into the Europeans’ penchant for unison clapping and cheers.

Conductor Galonski has his moments in Sarasate’s pungent exploration of Gypsy Airs, here realized in nervy, fiery figures reminiscent of the best days of Heifetz, Ricci, and Haendel herself. Haendel’s middle voice still wrings the heart, her flute tone sails into the ether, and her phrasing is one long, breathed song. After the extended slow section, the “friss” or Allegro vivace section breaks out with a vengeance, a thrill we have been waiting for. Happy, dashing figures run up and down the fingerboard, the orchestra hurrying to keep up. Plenty of gypsy sliding-effects, double notes and added accents to spare. The collective “Bravo!” is quite audible.  And so to more Wieniawski, his grand Polonaise in D, a staple of Milstein, Elman, and the whole school of Russo-Polish violinists trained in Auer/Flesch tradition.  Galonski’s orchestra casts the polonaise more as a stately court dance than its traditional wont, but the effect is stately and noble. One could ascribe this entire concert to noblesse oblige, the magnanimous gesture of a musician dedicated to her violin art of seventy-five years.

The Tchaikovsky appears to be a solo encore, opening with a huge cadenza and then progressing to the step-wise dance and its quick modulations. Haendel’s trill remains intact, her slides and shifts of hand position masterly.  Spiccati and added grace notes fly out of a ceaseless reservoir of musical effects. The piece stops on a dime to end. Close miking intrudes on Haendel’s breathing as she intones a solo version of Bruch’s Kol Nidrei, a personal requiem for the Poland she left behind to its fate under Nazism and Stalinism.  Here, perhaps, no applause was necessary.

Haendel concludes with the Andante from Bach’s Sonata No. 2 in A Minor.  She plays it as a kind of ornamental, solemn march, a triumph of  the spirit. The volume and the accents become more inflamed as she proceeds, and even the dying chords’ decay elicits a pregnant, valedictory power.  A fine disc, recommended.

— Gary Lemco