Nazrin Rashidova / Roderick Chadwick

Leopold Godowsky: Twelve Impressions

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Polish piano virtuoso Leopold Godowsky settled in the U.S., where he became a fixture of the concert scene in the first two decades of the 20th century. He also wrote a good deal of music performable by lesser talents, and those whose piano benches contain some older collections of short pieces probably already own some of it. The music for violin and piano heard here falls into that latter category and is by now almost completely unknown. Some of it was dedicated to Fritz Kreisler, and it suffers in its conventional outlines by comparison with by turns overheated and antique mannerisms of that Austrian master. But it lies pleasantly on the violin, and the distinctively sweet, just slightly sultry tone of Azeri-British violinist Nazrin Rashidova may be attraction enough for some buyers by itself. Most of the music was arranged from works that were for piano alone originally: the majority are by Godowsky himself, but arrangements by Heifetz and Kreisler (the latter, the cinematically Arab Night in Tangier, is probably the strongest work of the set) are included, and they clearly valued Godowsky's music. The program combines lightly exotic works of folk or international flavoring with watered-down Chopin. It is what used to be called potted-palm music, and it succeeds entirely on its own terms. The sound from the small Wyastone Concert Hall in Wales is superb: clear and absolutely appropriate. A pleasant hour of listening that would serve as well as background for a party today as it did in its own time.

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