Songs My Mother Taught Me

 

Nemanja Radulovic (violin) and friends

DGG 479 4922

reviewed by Neville Cohn

 

If you’ve not yet come across the name Nemanja Radulovic, make a note of it. Because if his recent debut CD for DGG, titled Songs My Mother Taught Me, is anything to go by, this young man with an immense shock of hair and a frankly astounding musical gift, is on a fast track to fame. I listened in astonishment as he demonstrated phenomenal insight and finesse in this collection of encore-type miniatures.

 

image002Although many of these pieces have long been in the standard concert repertoire and recorded umpteen times, in this young fiddler’s hands, they sound transformed – newly minted. This is no small achievement.

 

Listen, for instance, to the Russian Dance from Tchaikowsky’s score for Swan Lake. Radulovic’s account is a miniature music miracle. Is there a more murdered piece than Monti’s famous Czardas? Yet, here too, the performance is revelatory, making familiar notes sound as if being heard for the very first time.

 

But although there are numerous pieces here that are very widely known, there are also a number of fascinating, seldom heard  items from Eastern Europe. Here, too, Radulovic makes magic, wielding his bow like some enchanted wand to take the listener into a sonic world that will be new and engaging for an international audience.

 

I would very much like to listen to Radulovic in one or other of the great fiddle concertos or, say, one of Bach’s works for unaccompanied violin to gauge the full extent of his phenomenal skill on the violin.

 

Kalajic’s Vatra Suze (Tears of Fire) ranges from a powerful, blazing intensity to ear-caressing gentleness. And Pasona Kolo, a traditional Serbian dance, is taken at absolutely phenomenal speed with piano, percussion and whistles combining to thrilling effect.

 

A seductive, sweet-toned nocturne by Khachaturian is delivered with a finesse which is beyond conventional criticism. The Romance which Shostakovich wrote for the Gadfly movie is offered at a similarly high level. As well, there’s a delightful take on Prokofiev’s March from The Love for Three Oranges.

 

The theme from Schindler’s List is given profoundly moving treatment, music that is a distillation of sadness and regret.

 

On the basis of this debut recording for DGG, Radulovic’s star is clearly on the ascendant – and it shines dazzlingly in this compilation.

 

 

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