Rachmaninov: For Violin and Piano

Rachmaninov: For Violin and Piano

by Hideko Udagawa


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Rachmaninov: For Violin and Piano

This 2009 Signum Classics disc Rachmaninov for Violin and Piano is something of a mixed bag. On the positive side is the skillful and soulful violin playing of Hideko Udagawa, whose lean, incisive tone and tight, focused vibrato cut through the thickest textures of the piano accompaniment. Another asset is the masterful piano playing of Konstantin Lifschitz. Not only an admirable accompanist who supports and encourages but never overwhelms his soloist, Lifschitz is a first-class soloist himself, with a clear, ringing tone and a powerful and impeccable technique. Together, their subtle, strong, and sympathetic performances constitute the disc's greatest strength. A definite minus is the fact that only two of the four short pieces for violin and piano that Rachmaninov wrote early in his career are included here, the "Romance in A minor" and the "Hungarian Dance in D minor." The Romance starts slowly and soulfully and turns sentimental, while the "Hungarian Dance" is a standard-issue virtuoso display piece in the manner of a Czardas. Neither work would likely be remembered today if it hadn't been written by Rachmaninov. The remaining works on the program are transcriptions, five of which were arranged exceptionally well by Jascha Heifetz, especially the hauntingly beautiful "Etude-Tableaux Op. 33/2." The transcription of "Vocalise," made by the little known violinist, conductor, and arranger Michael Press, is faithful to the original, but does not work well for the violin. Fritz Kreisler's transcription of "Daisies" is every bit as masterfully done as Heifetz's arrangements, although with a touch more soul. The two final transcriptions are from works originally written for cello, the "Sonata, Op. 19," and the "Oriental Dance, Op. 2/2." Arranged by Viktor Mikhailovsky, the former is dull, dutiful, dreary, and uninspired, while the latter sweet, swaying, and decidedly sultry. While the incompleteness of the collection and the unevenness of the transcriptions are drawbacks, the excellence of Udagawa and Lifschitz's performances of the Heifetz and Kreisler transcriptions, particularly their highly charged account of the "Oriental Dance," make this a disc that should hold strong interest for Rachmaninov fans. Signum Classics' sound is a clear, clean, and close, perhaps too close for some listeners.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/28/2009
Label: Signum Uk
UPC: 0635212016428
catalogNumber: 164


  1. Sonata for cello and piano in G minor, Op. 19
  2. Romance for violin & piano in A minor, TN ii/31
  3. Pieces (2) for cello & piano, Op. 2: 2. Danse Orientale
  4. Daisies, song for voice & piano, Op. 38/3
  5. Etudes-Tableaux, for piano, Op. 33: No. 7
  6. Prelude for piano No.16 in G major, Op. 32/5
  7. Melody, song for voice & piano, Op. 21/9
  8. Pieces (3) for piano, TN ii/19: Oriental Sketch
  9. Etudes-Tableaux, for piano, Op. 33: No. 2
  10. Vocalise, instrumental arrangement, Op. 34/14
  11. Pieces (2) for cello & piano, Op. 2: 2. Danse Hongroise

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