Baroque Inspirations

Hideko Udagawa (violin)

Scottish Chamber Orchestra cond. Nicholas Kraemer

TPT: 57’ 35”

reviewed by Neville Cohn

 

Baroque InspirationsTartini’s Devil’s Trill Sonata is known to millions of music aficionados but few, I imagine, have encountered it in the version recorded here by Hideko Udagawa. She reveals a very different take on this venerable work. In it, the conventional keyboard accompaniment is completely jettisoned and the sonata is presented as a violin solo. The same applies to Vivaldi’s miniature Andante in C minor. Both the Tartini and Vivaldi works are given their world premiere recordings here as is the Concerto in B flat by Karl Stamitz which is performed with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

 

Udagawa’s performance of Devil’s Trill makes fascinating listening. Initially, it sounds, as it were, incomplete, the audio equivalent of looking at a famous painting, say one of van Gogh’s impressions of sunflowers, with some of the blooms missing. But this sense of oddness, resulting from the absence of the keyboard part, evaporates as one falls under the spell of Udagawa’s persuasive artistry.

 

In the second movement, the playing is intense, passionate and forceful. It’s a powerful statement with finely maintained momentum. And in the famous finale, assertive, grainy-toned intensity, with finely spun trills – with fleeting digressions into introspection – combine to impressive effect. Certainly, the version of the finale offered here is so convincing in stylistic terms that the presentation sounds completely satisfying; the absence of an accompaniment here barely registers..

 

Vivaldi in brief, a three-minute Prelude with finely negotiated double-stopping, is another rarity.

 

There’s first-rate orchestral accompaniment from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in the Concerto in B flat by Stamitz. A charm-laden Allegro gives way to a sweet-toned Adagio but solo intonation is less than secure. The concluding dance-like Rondo brims with good cheer although less than totally reliable intonation-wise.

 

Fritz Kreisler is famous for writing music miniatures which he would pass off as the work of this or that obscure composer as well as delightful Viennese-style pieces (Praeludium and Allegro, Liebesfreud – the list is long). Here we have a violin concerto “in the style of Vivaldi”. Its first movement has a pleasantly rhythmical if ersatz charm, all of it revealed with finesse. In the andante doloroso, Udagawa mines the music for all its melancholy charm with notes clothed in warmly mellow tone. A fine pace is maintained in an assertively rhythmical finale with conductor Nicholas Kraemer presiding efficiently over events.

 

Intonation is not always secure in the Kreisler work – and curiously wayward pitch mars an account of Vitali’s Chaconne.

 

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