Oleg Ponomarev

Master of the Russian Gypsy Violin

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A masterful album of violin music roving back and forth from classical to jazz to folk. Oleg Ponomare tends to infuse everything he plays with some sensibilities from the gypsy-jazz tradition (he and the bulk of the other performers on Master of the Russian Gypsy Violin were indeed members of the Hot Club of Dublin, a gypsy-jazz outfit). The backing guitars tend to fall into a basic rhythm, which simply lets Ponomare do his thing over the top without any real interference. At times he moves into a slower, more pensive mood, but never quite reaches the mournfulness he seems to be reaching for. Other times, he simply revels in showcasing his speed and virtuosity. The music is a nice collection of old and new, with footholds in the gypsy traditions as well as references to Russian classical masters (as needed). Ponomare is a technical beast, but the emotion he pulls from his violin comes and goes in spurts. Worth a listen, though there are aspects of the album better represented by other artists.

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