Classical Reissue Reviews

Ursula Bagdasarjanz, violin – “Sept Poesies pour Violon et Piano“ = BAGDASARJANZ: Berceuse; Dracula; Gipsy-Romance; Caprice; Reverie; Joie de vivre; Introduction et petite Valse des Alpes; MOZART: Sonata in B-flat Major: Allegro moderato; HANDEL: Sonata in f Major; NARDINI: Sonata in D Major: Adagio; PAGANINI: Sonata – Ursala Bagsarajanz, violin/ Milanie Di Christino, violin (Bagdasarjanz “Poesies”)/ Fernande Kaesar, Bruno F. Saladin, Luciano Sgrizzi, Raluca Stirbat, pianists – Gallo

The last of the Gallo edition given to violin virtuoso Bagdasarjanz allows us to savor her gifts as stylish performer and gifted composer in her own right.

Published on July 18, 2013

Ursula Bagdasarjanz, violin – “Sept Poesies pour Violon et Piano“ = BAGDASARJANZ: Berceuse; Dracula; Gipsy-Romance; Caprice; Reverie; Joie de vivre; Introduction et petite Valse des Alpes; MOZART: Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 378: Allegro moderato; HANDEL: Sonata in f Major; NARDINI: Sonata in D Major: Adagio; PAGANINI: Sonata No. 12 from Op. 3 – Ursala Bagsarajanz, violin/ Milanie Di Christino, violin (Bagdasarjanz “Poesies”)/ Fernande Kaesar, Bruno F. Saladin, Luciano Sgrizzi, Raluca Stirbat, pianists – Gallo CD-1251, 53:51 [Distr. by Albany] ****:

The fourth and final Gallo tribute to Swiss violin virtuoso Ursula Bagdasarjanz (b. 1934) includes her own contributions as a composer, her original compositions for violin and piano which she collectively entitles Sept Poesies pour Violon et Piano, here performed (in Lucerne, 2007) by her eminent pupil Melanie Di Cristino, while the remaining classical compositions derive from sessions by Bagdasarjanz and various pianists from recitals given 1960-1969.

The Berceuse in C Minor begins with a plaint similar to the theme in Tchaikovsky’s Serenade melancolique, folk-like, proceeding by balanced phrases. At the end of the piece, Di Cristino’s violin tenderly soars into the upper registers. Bagdasarjanz’s Dracula (in F Major) projects a screechy, percussive, syncopated ethos, a far (bat’s) cry from the haunted legato in Lugosi’s incarnation. A Bartok stomping-dance might better serve as a model for this occult moment. The Gipsy-Romance in B Minor looks to Brahms of the Hungarian Dances. In two distinct motions, lassu and friss, the Romance pays no less homage to Hubay and Sarasate. This piece might well have served as a vehicle for Joseph Szigeti. Caprice in B Minor salutes Paganini, to be sure. It begins as a solo in high register and double-stops, then a slow section in the manner of a sarabande has the piano enter. The keyboard has its bravura moments as well, imitating the strummed cimbalom. The writing then borrows from Tartini and Viotti, only to “revert” to Paganini pyrotechnics. Joie de vivre (in G Major) bows to the Polish rhythms of Wieniawski, at once brilliant and sentimental. The Reverie in B Minor has an affinity with Fritz Kreisler or Henri Vieuxtemps’ wistfulness. The moments of throaty solos by performer Cristono attest to an equally fine violin talent. The last of the Bagdasarjanz group, the Introduction et petite Valse des Alpes (in G) certainly bows to The Carnival of Venice for its melodic contour,  but it takes an audacious turn or two in the form of variations of its own before returning to its rustic basis.

Bagdasarjanz herself enters with the first movement from Mozart’s 1781 Sonata in B-flat Major, from a 1969 performance, Fernande Kaesar assisting. The broad opening theme Bagdasarjanz takes moderato as prescribed, adding more impetus to the abrupt gestures of the secondary theme.  Her intonation and attacks, incisive and alert, move this music with seamless aplomb.  Pianist Kaesar, whose work I previously knew not at all, makes a freshly suave impression in Mozart: clear, brilliant, and articulate.  The remastered sound (2008) bequeaths us a pellucid aural image of this eminently smooth performance. The Handel Sonata in F Major – played as a whole – derives from a 1964 concert with Bruno F. Saladin, piano. The noble proportions of the opening Adagio remind me of Milstein’s way with Baroque music. Vitality and assertive confidence mark the ensuing Allegro. After an equally compelling Largo, the eminently dancing final Allegro lifts our spirits to a fine pitch. The Nardini Adagio used to provide just the sentimental mystique favored by Mischa Elman. Bagdasarjanz applies the patrician tone and stately poise she learned from Aida Stucki and Max Rostal. For her finale, Bagdasarjanz performs (rec. 1964) with Bruno F. Saladin the mighty Sonata No. 12 (originally for violin and guitar) from Op. 3 by Paganini. Almost disingenuous in its application of serenade conceits, the piece makes us sense the virile power lying just beneath the Italian tenderness. The second half unleashes some of that splendid energy, a miniature symphonic poem in itself when given over to capable hands. Catch that applause!

—Gary Lemco




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