VIVALDI: The Four Seasons; ALEXSANDAR SEDLAR: Spring in Japan – Nemanja Radulovic, violin and leader/ The Devil’s Trills – Artact (Decca France) [Distr. by Universal] *****:
It is one of the most attractive features of the classical music world that miracles like The Four Seasons eternally invite young players to shine new light on it. It is, after all, what kids who learn to play instruments dream about.
Ripping away on a J.B Vuillaume of 1843, the 27-year old Radulovic tears through the Vivaldi with a propulsive, always melodramatic, occasionally virginal and sometimes violent reading that somehow completely avoids the semblance of artifice and feels just like the kind of wild ride a young kid with a magic fiddle might take. No movement is just the same, and the framework seems to extend over the entire 12 movements. It’s also hyper-authentic in the way Radulovic distributes ornaments here and there, but only when they’re least expected. He is followed at every step by the string quintet who backs him; they could equally be called The Devil’s Thrills.
To his exciting Seasons, Radulovic has added a sobering new piece by his Serbian compatriot, Alexsandar Sedlar. The 10-minute elegy, in which the solo violin plays an ambiguous role—both as victim and leader—was composed to honor the tsunami victims; it touches quite subtly on the fears and violence of the catastrophe, but is mostly concerned with consolation and healing. At the end, through some regenerative process, the music finds the energy to go forward, presumably with life as well.
The brilliant recording, made in a studio in Paris, has an attractive edgy quality which still allows room when purity of line is required. The liner notes present a lot of casually useful and amusing information about the musicians as well as the music, along with lots of great photos, some in color.
Radulovic’s two earlier Decca/Artact releases (both live recordings) make for equally rewarding listening; one features Tartini’s’ Devil’s Trill Sonata, the other Beethoven violin sonatas which he plays with Susan Manoff.
A “…first choice for a gift to any lover of classical music”…