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Prokofiev - Violin Concertos & Sonata No 1

Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major, Op. 19
Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 63
Violin Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 80 (1946)

Lydia Mordkovitch (violin) Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Järvi

Chandos Classics CD-CHAN10540X [78 mins]

A well-packed bargain re-release of recordings by "Oistrakh's star pupil", Lydia Mordkovitch (b.1944) is a distinguished violinist with a huge discography; "a fearless, highly volatile player, outsize in manner and sound" [Gramophone]. The "1st" sonata was actually the second to be completed, after the flute sonata which was expanded at Oistrakh's suggestion to become op 94 bis (1944). Powerful, gutsy accounts of all this music, which was central to her repertoire.

Prokofiev: Eugene Onegin, Op. 71

Timothy West (director), Andrew Rutt, Dominic Mafham, Helena McCarthy, Julian Walker, Niamh Cusack, Samuel West, Terrence Hardiman &
Sinfonia 21/Sir Edward Downes

Chandos Classics - CHAN10541(2)X

A rarer work, also welcome back, is Prokofiev's fascinating take on Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, his music written for an abortive production in 1937. The text in English (Sir Charles Johnston, Everyman's Library Pocket Poets) conveys well the original, sometimes emotionally involved, at others ironically distanced. (I came across the Pushkin text when first reviewing the Tchaikowsky opera many, many years ago, and would recommend everyone who loves the opera to acquire it, most easily as supplied here.)

It is an example of that rare, and not always happy, genre melodrama, with music intervening, accompanying, going along with speech, sometimes contributing a song or a chorus. The poetry is splendidly narrated by a cast headed by Timothy West. The late Sir Edward Downes added some lost pages that turned up in a London sale, and he gives us a beautifully judged performance of the substantial pieces of music, well recorded in 1994, adding up to a valuable item in his discography, far more than a novelty.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Links to original reviews: Gramophone.May'89 & Gramophone.October'85