Here are volumes 2 and 3 of Gallo’s series
of historic analogue recordings by the little-sung Swiss violinist Ursula
Ursula Bagdasarjanz was born in Winterthur, Switzerland in 1934, to
a mother, Margrit Weiss, who was herself an outstanding violinist. Her
father, Samuel Bagdasarjanz, was of Armenian and Swiss extraction, born
in Romania, whence his family emigrated to Switzerland. Her teachers
included Aida Stucki in Winterthur, Marcel Reynal at the Conservatoire
National Supérieur de Musique in Paris and Sándor Végh
in Basel. To this she added master-classes with Joseph Calvet in Paris
and Max Rostal in Bern. Her playing has been said to be much influenced
by the Carl Flesch method. In 1944, at the age of ten, Ursula gave her
first concert (Beethoven Romance in F major). She has toured Europe
and beyond. Such a pity that she has not recorded more extensively,
particularly in cantabile
concertos such as those by Ivanov and
the de Boeck.
The sonatas were recorded in 1961 by Swiss Radio just four years after
Schoeck's death. It is glorious to have these works played with such
searching, scalpel-probing, raw passion by Bagdasarjanz. To this one
adds the authority of Schoeck's daughter, Gisela as the pianist. Each
note is imbued with a driving carnality. The op. 22 work Variationensonate
has the theme and all of the variations each accorded their own track.
The op. 16 Sonata is about the same length as that of the op. 46: 16-plus
minutes. These works wear their deeply-steeped romantic credentials
with pride yet are very much to the point and know their optimum length
in relation to the musical ideas deployed. The two earliest sonatas
sometimes recall the great English violin sonatas of the post Great
War period - Isaacs, Dunhill, Bax and Ireland. Schoeck is ever the poignant
singer with his cantabile
intensity sometimes inhabiting the
same territory as Delius in his sonatas. That's certainly true of the
piled-high emotions of the opp. 16 and 22 works. The op. 46 Sonata is
elliptically expressed yet with a more expressionist edge to the ideas
and their expression. The central movement has eldritch witchery about
it. Zgraggen on Claves (review
is even more passionate while Barrett on Guild
sounds warmer but is more tight-lipped.
Bagdasarjanz broadcast the Stefi Geyer-inspired Schoeck Violin Concerto
for Swiss Radio in 1970 and the Glazunov concerto in 1960. They make
complementary companions and Bagdasarjanz is in lyrical form. In so
doing she reminds us of the Schoeck concerto's Elgarian songfulness.
It's a most beautiful work and while one can hear Geyer in the concerto
this is riper in tone and the apex of romance. Bagdasarjanz’s
playing reminded me of Campoli. I wonder if she ever performed the Elgar
concerto - it would have suited her to a tee. There is some very slight
channel damage to the original tapes but it is minor. If you love the
Mendelssohn and the Korngold then this is a work you should hear and
this version needs to be heard by all Schoeck devotees alongside the
now-rare Geyer CD; likewise the rather special - if short-playing -
sonatas disc. We should not forget completely the rather fierce sounding
Mace LP with the relentless Ulrick Lehman in the concerto. That rare
vinyl 33 (MCM 9047) was the vehicle for my first encounter with the
Schoeck concerto. It was coupled with the Horn Concerto in which the
soloist was Jozef Brejza. Time that Forgotten Records found a good copy
of that and reissued it on CD. You should also note the very natural
recording by the smoother yet passionate Betina Boller on Claves
The Glazunov is in even better, warmer sound. The conductor is Leopold
Casella. This can be compared with the niche-famous Francesco d'Avalos
for the Schoeck taken down long before his much sought after recordings
on the defunct Edelweis label. I have loved the Glazunov ever since
discovering it through the miraculous Josef Sivo version which can still
be heard on HDTT
The Bagdasarjanz is a connoisseur's version, taken at a less hectic
pace than usual. It turns out to do the music a considerable favour.
You must not expect great things of the audio on the concertos disc.
It is good-to-passable radio broadcast quality. Once reconciled to that
there is no problem and the door is open to a very fine Glazunov and
a satisfying Schoeck.
These two discs are part of a sequence of four Gallo CDs featuring Bagdasarjanz
Violin buffs should remember this grandly stylish violinist from these,
her heyday recordings.
Bagdasarjanz in her Schoeck heyday - still much to be learnt and enjoyed
from this music-making.
Other Bagdasarjanz CDs from Gallo
Johann Sebastian Bach: Sonata in a-moll for violin solo.
Pietro Nardini: Sonata in D-Dur for violin und piano.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Sonata in B-Dur KV 378 for violin und piano.
Béla Bartok: First rhapsody for violin und piano.
Ursula Bagdasarjanz (violin), Luciano Sgrizzi and Fernande Kaeser (piano).
VDE-GALLO (GALLO CD 1248)
Volume 4 "Sept poésies pour Violon et Piano"
Ursula Bagdasarjanz: Berceuse, Dracula, Gipsy-Romance, Caprice, Joie
de vivre, Rêverie, Introduction et petite Valse des Alpes.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: 1756-1791, Sonata in B-Dur KV 378 for violin
und piano. 1. Allegro moderato.
Georg Friedrich Händel: 1685-1759, Sonata in F-Dur for violin und
Pietro Nardini: Sonata in D-Dur for violin und piano. 1. Adagio.
Niccoló Paganini: 1782-1840, Sonata No. 12 Op.3 for violin und
Melanie Di Cristino (violin), Raluca Stirbat (piano), Ursula Bagdasarjanz
(violin). VDE-GALLO (GALLO CD 1251)