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Mikhail Zemtsov (viola)
Dana Zemtsov (viola) **
Irina Shishkina (piano)

Anton RUBINSTEIN (1829-1894) Viola Sonata
Mihail RADULESCU (b. 1943) Viola Suonata *
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962) arr. Alan H. Arnold Recitativo en Scherzo Caprice *
Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915) arr. M. Sokolov; I. Safonov; G. Bezrukov: Desire; Mazurka; Prelude *
Mikhail KUGEL (b. 1946) Prelude Ysaye
Evgeny ZEMTSOV (b. 1940) Melodia *
Wilhelm ERNST (1814-1865) Arr. Mikhail Kugel The Last Rose of Summer] *
G.F. HANDEL Concerto for viola and piano; 1st movement **
* world premiere recordings

rec. live, Castle Duivenvoorde, Voorschoten, Netherlands, Nov 2004

STEMRA NA5001CD [73 mins] € 20 Enquiries to ashim@hetnet.nl

The experienced Russian born soloist Mikhail Zemtsov (principal violist of the Hague Residence Orchestra) has scoured the repertoire and come up with some gems. This is a superior demo disc, a live recital recording which deserves not to be overlooked by the regular CD reviewing journals despite its rudimentary documentation. There are no notes about the music nor track timings, which may be off-putting for some radio stations?

Rubinstein's sonata is thoroughly engaging and given with compelling involvement. There are several Radulescus to be found on search, and it would be good to know more about this one, whose solo sonata is distinctive and well worth hearing again and perhaps being taken on by other artists?

The Scriabin piano pieces go well in thiese transcriptions. Kugel offers a virtuoso study in the Ysaye vein, and the Ernst/Kugel arrangement is a substantial set of variations, played with the necessary virtuosity by this accomplished violist and musician. His tone is rich and communicative in all styles and moods, and he makes the best possible case for this programme of rarities.

The previous generation is represented with an attractive Melodia by the soloist's father and the next one by a poised classical offering from Mikhail's viola playing daughter Dana Zemtsov, who shows us a developed musicality and good technique in a (probably spurious) Handel movement.

A thoroughly enjoyable family disc
, and its enterprising and demanding selection should attract the attention of a record company for future CDs by this artist.

All violists who read about this one will want it, and other chamber music enthusiasts will not regret adding it to their collections.

Another review:

CD Review: “The Last Rose of Summer” by Mikhail Zemtsov, Viola


The Last Rose of Summer CD by Mikhail Zemtsov, Viola, and Irina Shishkina, Piano, is very enjoyable and highly recommended. The soloist produces a rich tone with a wide range of color and dynamics. Irina Shishkina provides a sympathetic and well balanced accompaniment.


Nowadays there is so much wonderful music that is neglected and hardly ever played, and it was refreshing to hear some of these works I have never heard before. Hopefully this CD will popularize these works and encourage others to perform them.


Since I am a pianist, I am familiar with some of Anton Rubinstein's works including the Melody in F and the Piano Sonata, but I never knew he wrote a viola and piano sonata as well. This work is full of melodies that were beautifully played. The introduction to the Andante was reminiscent of the slow movement of Bruch's Violin Concerto. The finale showed the influence of Brahms and Schumann on the composer.


The unaccompanied Sonata by Radulesco is a very mysterious, ghost-like piece, beginning very quietly and then building up to a climax. It consists mostly of recitative, and is a very dramatic, emotional and melancholy work.


The beginning of the “Recitative en Scherzo Caprice” by Kreisler was reminiscent of “Nigun” from Bloch's “Baal Shem” Suite, and the ending reminded me of Kreisler's “Praeludium and Allegro” for violin and piano.


One of the highlights of this CD was Scriabin's Desire, Mazurka and Prelude, a transcription of his piano work. These pieces are full of gorgeous melodies, and didn't have the atonality of some of Scriabin's later and more experimental compositions.


The Prelude Ysaye by Mikhail Kugel is a passionate and sad piece for unaccompanied viola. At times I imagined this could be a cadenza for one of the great romantic violin concertos.


The “Melodia” for viola and piano, composed by Mikhail's father, showed that he might have been influenced by Prokofiev, Gerald Finzi and other composers of that period. There was some very good ensemble playing in this piece.


The variations on “The Last Rose of Summer” were reminiscent of some of the Paganini Caprices, complete with harmonics and arpeggio accompaniment rapidly up and down the four strings. It was a very good virtuoso performance.


Dana Zemtsov, Mikhail's daughter, showed herself a very talented musician in the first movement of Handel's concerto for viola and piano. She played this work with good intonation and sense of rhythm.


Mikhail Zemtsov is on this evidence a musician and artist of the highest caliber.


Robert Finley, January 2006.


For another "family disc" see Records & Recordings review of SIMON WOOLF's RECITAL RECORDINGS

© Peter Grahame Woolf