Myriam Solovieff = BACH: Chaconne from Solo Partita No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004; MOZART: Violin Sonata in E Minor, K. 304; BRAHMS: Violin Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 108 – Myriam Solovieff, violin/ Julius Katchen, p. – MeloClassic MC 2007, 49:06 (5/2/14) [www.meloclassic.com] ****:
Myriam Solovieff (1921-2004) was a San Francisco musical phenomenon who had been mightily impressed by the 1928 debut of the young Ruggiero Ricci, aged ten, at the Scottish Rite Auditorium. A natural prodigy, Myriam came to the attention of both Basil Cameron and Artur Rodzinski, the latter of whom pronounced her “a child who offers wonderful possibilities for the future. She has so much already – tone, technique, and understanding – that I qualify her without hesitation as a matured artist now, and it was on this basis that I selected her to play with the [Los Angeles] Philharmonic.”
The present recital from French Radio (13 January 1963) in Paris opens with a colossally suave reading of the Bach Chaconne for solo violin. Solovieff’s tone and articulation prove resonant and strikingly accurate. Her pacing absorbs the many changes of registration and timbre of the instrument, never losing the thread of the basic pulse. The fleet passages move with vigorous resonance, more than reminiscent of the facility and drive Szigeti or Menuhin could bring to this monument.
We next have an intimate rendition of the Mozart 1778 Sonata in E Minor in collaboration with Julius Katchen (1926-1969). Though in two movements, Alfred Einstein called the sonata “one of the miracles among Mozart’s works.” One aspect of that miracle must be attributed to the keyboard part, which Katchen executes with a combination of lightness and power. The partners interchange unison elements with moments of counterpoint, with Solovieff’s resonant double stops to provide a “third” instrument. The second movement bears the marking Tempo di Menuetto, but its somber cast points more to the late Mozart of the Piano Concerto No. 24. The music takes a dolce turn into E Major, one of those moments when Mozart glimpses serene Eternity. Consider that the work is contemporary with Mozart’s mother’s last illness, and we might account for its lyrical tragic beauty.
The modest recital concludes with the Brahms 1887 D Minor Sonata, Op. 108, a work Katchen would inscribe commercially for Decca. The music projects its somber drama with Solovieff’s playing in double stops and imposing an eerie sensibility on the often virtuoso figures. With its darkly passionate affect, it comes as little surprise that Brahms spreads the melodic tissue over three octaves, which Solovieff and Katchen traverse with collaborative authority. The final cadence in D Major prepares us for the segue to the Adagio. Almost a processional in their realization, the Adagio moves in a lilted 3/8 that Solovieff infuses with thoughtful melancholy. When the music rises up an octave, the effect from Solovieff becomes quite poignant. The little interlude or intermezzo, Un presto e con sentimento, proceeds with restrained dalliance, weaving in and out of the minor mode. In one burst of ecstatic passion, Solovieff and Katchen sing a most rapturous duet. The last movement, Presto agitato, moves in the manner of a tarantella in 6/8. Here, Solovieff and Katchen appear to compete for supremacy, each inspiring the other to a higher level of passion. The music suddenly develops, sonata-form, into a startling declaration of ardent nostalgia, elevated by Solovieff’s sweet-toned Stradivarius. The last pages ring in our minds long after the final cadence, a sure indication that Solovieff has been under-represented in our collective consciousness.
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