Hideko Udagawa / Nicholas Kraemer / Scottish Chamber Orchestra

Baroque Inspirations

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This rather curious release from Japanese violinist Hideko Udagawa bills itself as containing three world premieres, but paradoxically it's a very old-fashioned kind of recording, with a "Baroque" program of the kind one might have heard around 1950. The bookends are a pair of virtuoso violin pieces that used to be heard often in recitals but aren't so common nowadays: the Chaconne in G minor for violin and orchestra of Tomaso (or Tommaso, but probably not Tomasso as he is spelled here) Vitali and the Sonata in G minor of Giuseppe Tartini known as "The Devil's Trill." The latter is played solo, with the justification that Tartini indicated in a letter that he had had the work published with a continuo part only for convention's sake, and that in a dream he had indeed imagined just a solo violin. The other premieres are a Prelude for solo violin by Vivaldi, apparently an arrangement by a Russian publisher (pretty thin stuff), and a Concerto for violin and orchestra in B flat major by Mannheim composer Carl Stamitz, which has a pleasantly bumptious finale, but none of the orchestral fireworks for which Mannheim was known. Lastly there's a concerto "in the style of Vivaldi" by violinist Fritz Kreisler that he (and/or his publisher) passed off as Vivaldi's own. Today it's incredible that anyone could be fooled; it sounds more like Malipiero or Respighi in his antique mode than Vivaldi, but at the time (1927) Vivaldi was entirely unknown, and the concerto is intriguing as a sort of window into how an ear of the early 20th century heard Baroque music. At any rate, the work contains a good deal of display meant for Kreisler himself, and this Udagawa handles with aplomb. She was a student of American violinist Nathan Milstein, and the rich, elegant Russian-school virtuosity fits this program well even though it's a bit unexpected for Udagawa, who has specialized mostly in Romantic repertory. The sound, recorded in two different inappropriate large venues, is not great, but this can be recommended for those interested in what used to be called the pre-Classical period.

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