Classical CD Reviews

“Le charme de la vieille Europe” (The Charm of Old Europe): Works of WARLOCK; SAINT-SAËNS; FAURE; HEMSI; SARASATE; & WEINER – Orch. de Lancy-Genève – Roberto Sawicki, violin & cond. — Doronmusic

An eclectic collection of various composers in mediocre sound and performance.

Published on August 27, 2013

“Le charme de la vieille Europe” (The Charm of Old Europe): WARLOCK: Capriol Suite; SAINT-SAËNS: Prélude to La Déluge, Intro and Rondo Capriccioso Op. 28 for violin and orch.; FAURE: Nocturne from Shylock Op. 57; Berceuse Op. 16 for violin and orch.; HEMSI: Vecchia canzone del ghetto Op. 15 No. 1; Danza poppolare ebraica Op. 15 No. 2 (Kacsoh arr.); Traditionnel Tzigane (solo violin); SARASATE: Zigeunerweisen for violin and orchestra; WEINER: Divertimento No. 1 Op. 20Orch. de Lancy-Genève – Roberto Sawicki, violin & cond. — Doronmusic DRC 5038, 62:49 **:

Every one of the composers listed was born in the 19th century and lived into the 20th. Apparently, someone involved with this production thought the title, “The Charm of Old Europe” for this odd and generally unrelated collection of pieces, was appropriate. I don’t.

All of these works, as performed here, are for violin and string orchestra. Unfortunately, at least based on his cover photo, Sawicki is not as spry as some of these works demand. This situation might be forgiven if the sound was excellent. It is not. It is not even good. It is muffled at times and the conductor’s violin is so spotlit as to be annoying. These are live recordings.

Sawicki may be respected, even admired, in Switzerland; but based on this recording, he is not of international caliber. The CD smacks of being a “vanity press” type of release. I cannot think why Doronmusic decided to issue it. The booklet in the jewel box comes in the standard four languages.

There are other recordings of this music by these six composers that are superior musically and sonically. The only exception is Alberto Hemsi’s music which is available only on a few imports. Hemsi was born in Turkey in Jewish society. He gathered songs and liturgical chants of the the Ottoman Empire’s Sephardic community. He also lived in Greece and finally settled in Paris where he died in 1975.

If you wish this collection and don’t mind the sonic limitations, it’s your choice.

—Zan Furtwangler




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