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Sergei Ivanovich TANEYEV
Concert Suite; Entr'acte; Oresteya Overture
Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Ashkenazy (Pekka Kuusisto, violin)
Ondine ODE 959-2 [65 mins]

Colin Clarke has welcomed a chamber music CD of Taneyev (1856-1915) as demonstrating that this teacher of famous Russian composers is himself under-represented in the catalogue nowadays; certainly Seen&Heard has never been called upon to assess his music in live performance.This CD gives no support for that contention. The Oresteya Overture begins promisingly in a Tchaikovskian vein, but the material and its working are generally undistinguished and its final peroration and conclusion brings to mind a nineteenth century organist who sits on the final chord of a big work interminably. The 42 minute Concert Suite (1909) for Leopold Auer begins with a Prelude and Gavotte which explore violin techniques of the period. At nearly a quarter of an hour, the Variations movement has some attractive sections and might be worth playing in concert. The suite ends with a typical tarantella to show off the soloist's virtuosity, but taken as a whole the Suite outstays its welcome. Pekka Kuusisto plays securely and with a sweet tone; he fails to bring the 'lift' and imagination with which a top violinist, such as Shaham, Mutter or Vengerov (to name a few), might have seized it to convince us that it was worth spending three quarters of an hour of our time in Taneyev's company. The recording is good and Ashkenazy does all that could be expected for what this reviewer thinks is a lost cause.

Peter Grahame Woolf

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