While there have been a handful of artists whose performance careers have extended into their eighties, most of these have seen at least some noticeable deterioration in their technical prowess and refinement at their instruments. Even some of the greats like Isaac Stern or Artur Rubinstein can be heard in recordings made in the last years of their careers with frequent technical missteps and even complete lapses in memory. Such detriments of age are difficult if not impossible to detect in the playing of pianist Bella Davidovich. This Delos album features the Jubilee Concert celebrating Davidovich's 80th birthday; other than the picture on the cover, most listeners would never guess that an octogenarian was sitting at the piano bench. The concert opens with Mendelssohn's G minor Concerto, a work filled with nimble filigree that often evades even the young and spry. Although this concerto did not enter Davidovich's repertoire until much later in her life, she performs it as if she'd known it all her life. Her attention to nuance lives up to her reputation of focused study of the score. The second half of the program is devoted to Chausson's Concerto for violin, piano, and string quartet, heard here in an arrangement for string orchestra by Davidovich's son, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, who also conducts and performs the solo violin part. Contrasting with the dexterous passagework of the Mendelssohn, Chausson offers listeners the chance to hear a completely different side of Davidovich. Lush and sweeping in its Romantic gestures, this concerto is really more like a chamber work with three highly integrated parts. Sitkovetsky's leadership produces a nicely refined, close-knit performance that leaves little doubt that the mother-son duo has performed this work many times before.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25|
|Concert, for violin, piano & string quartet in D major, Op. 21|