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Wandy Tworek The Danish Violin Wizard
Esther Vagning (piano: all except Mortensen)
The Danish Broadcast Light Music Orchestra/Teddy Petersen (Mortensen)
rec. 1946-53 DANACORDDACOCD787/8 [78:12+79:29]
Wandy (Wladydslaw) Tworek was born in Copenhagen in 1913. His father was from Poland and his mother from the Ukraine. They had been in their way to start a new life in the United States, but got no further than Denmark, where they settled. Tworek parents’ household was musical: his mother was a gifted singer and his father was a good violinist, with a great interest in the folk music of eastern Europe. After a varied apprenticeship, which included playing the violin in major stores and restaurants, Tworek’s career took off. In 1942, he formed his own orchestra which played at the ‘Gypsy Hall’ in Copenhagen. One of the men he met at this time was a certain Børge Rosenbaum, better known as ‘Victor Borge’, the wayward musical comedian and excellent musician. During the 1950s, Wandy Tworek made several tours including the United States, Norway, England, Sweden and the Faroe Islands. He died in 1990 at Sønder Stenderup near Kolding in South Denmark.
The key thing about Tworek was his ability to play the great ‘classics’ including an authoritative performance of Bartok’s Sonata for solo Violin (1944), featured on this retrospective CD release, as well as ‘pop’ standards such as ‘Tango Jalousie’ and other ‘lollipops’ of the repertoire. As they would say in Yorkshire, there was ‘no side’ on him: he was not a musical snob. One of Tworek’s major achievements was his contribution to the recording studio made during the 1940s and 1950s. There are some 78 discs in the catalogue covering a wide range of classical and popular music.
The first CD includes a definitive (to me at any rate) performance of Henryk Wieniawski great Violin Concerto No.2, D Minor op. 22. This is surely one of most significant concertos of the romantic era. The entire work is full of lyrical melody, vibrant gypsy fiddling and sheer virtuosity. Despite the recording being some 70-odd years old, it held up remarkably well. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The two Sonatas by the Danish composer Knudåge Riisager, are probably not that well-known in the United Kingdom, which is a pity. Riisager wrote a Concerto for Tworek which was successful and has been recorded by Danacord (DACOCD 467-468). The two works by Riisager on this disc are a remarkable Sonata for two violins composed in 1923-4, and the Sonata for violin, cello and piano (1927). In the first of these sonatas, Charles Senderovitz partnered Tworek. This work may have been inspired by Bartok or Prokofiev: it is probably the most challenging work on this CD set. I shall certainly return to this remarkable piece.
I have never been a fan of Cesar Franck’s great Sonata in A minor. So, despite an outstanding performance by Tworek, it does not convince me to re-evaluate my feelings towards the work. On the other hand, I was delighted with some of the ‘pot-boilers’ on the second CD. There is the above-mentioned ‘Tango Jalousie’ by Jacob Gade. Such was the popularity of this piece, it could hardly have been left out of this collection. I guess Max Jaffa’s famous performances of Vittorio Monti’s ‘Czardas’ has spoilt other composers of examples of this exuberant Hungarian dance. On this present disc, the two examples by Jeno Hubay are vibrant and exiting without toppling Monti. The miniatures by Fini Henriques are ideal encores. ‘The Mosquito Dance’, musically does what it says on the ‘tin’: this is a pesky insect! A little masterpiece. Equally diabolic (to play) is the short but hardly scary Devil’s Dance. ‘Birds’ conclude the programme: Ferdinand Poliakin’s humorous representation of ‘The Canary’ and Kai Mortensen’s evocation of the ‘Cock’s Doodle Dandy’ are both fun from end to end. This latter number should have been a regular on the BBCs Uncle Mac. Both pieces allow the violinist to show off, with a many tricks of the trade. Designed to bring the house down, which they do!
A great collection of music, masterfully played, beautifully restored and well presented. Hopefully there is more from the archives where these wonderful recordings were found. Well done Danacord!
Contents CD1 Henryk WIENIAWSKI (1835-80) Violin Concerto No.2, D Minor op. 22 (c.1862) [20:12]
The Danish Broadcasting Orchestra/Erik Tuxen, Rec: 1946 Henryk WIENIAWSKI Kuyawiak, 2. Mazurka (1853) [2:45]
Esther Vagning, piano, Rec: 1946 Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Sonata for solo Violin (1944) [24:35], Rec: 1951 Knudåge RIISAGER (1897-1974) Sonata for two Violins op. 55b (1923-4) [15:39]
Charles Senderovitz, violin, Rec: 1953; Knudåge RIISAGER Sonata for Violin, Cello and Piano op.55a (1927) [14:27] Johan Hye-Knudsen, cello and Esther Vagning, piano, Rec: 1953
CD 2 César FRANCK (1822-90) Sonata A major for violin and piano (1886) [26:04]
Esther Vagning, piano, Rec: 1947 Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770) Sonata in G Minor, ‘Devil’s Trill’ [14:45]
Esther Vagning, piano, Rec: 1947 Pablo de SARASATE (1844-08) Zigeunerweisen [7:44]
The Danish Broadcasting Orchestra/Emil Reesen, Rec: 1946 Jacob GADE (1879-1963) Tango Tzigane, ‘Jalousie’ [3:23]
The Danish Broadcasting Orchestra/Emil Reesen, Rec: 1946 Jenö HUBAY (1858-1937) Hejre Kati, Czardas No. 4, op. 32 [4:18]; Hullámzó Balaton, Czardas No. 5, op 33 [4:19], Rec.1947 Ole BULL (1810-1880) A Shepherd Girl´s Sunday [3:07], Rec. 1953 Fini HENRIQUES (1867-1940) Mosquito´s Dance [1:49]; Devil´s Dance [2:20]; Lullaby [2:48], Rec 1947 Wandy TWOREK (1913 – 1990) Capricietto [3:00], Rec 1947 Ferdinand POLIAKIN (1861 – 1921)
Le Canari Arr.; Wandy TWOREK [2:21] Rec. 1948 Kai MORTENSEN (1908-89) Cock´s Doodle-Dandy [2:15]
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