Russian-born Albert Markov (b.1933) was a pupil of Yankelevich, one of the Soviet Union’s premier teachers. Second prize at the 1959 International Queen Elizabeth Violin Competition in Brussels – Jamie Laredo won – launched his career and in 1975 he emigrated to America. His son Alexander is a strong presence on the circuit. I last reviewed Markov in the context of his compositions.
The first volume in this Doremi series devoted to Markov’s recordings stretches back to his Melodiya discography of the years between 1956 and 1963, though nothing is dated more specifically than that, nor are the original LP catalogue numbers given.
Rare concerto repertoire rubs shoulders with recital favourites. Bidzina Kverbadze’s 1956 concerto, with the Moscow Radio Symphony directed by Zakhary Khurodze, is full of long-breathed Khachaturian-like lyricism. Fast passagework in the opening movement is buoyed on a sea of surging warmth in preparation for an (overlong) cadenza. The central movement is a lovely romantic reverie whilst the finale is Sibelius in translation – very lightly translated, it has to be said - with an admixture of Eastern folklore. There’s a very rough unavoidable edit in the finale. Ulvi Cemal Erkin’s 1947 Concerto is rather better known and has been recorded by Buswell on Naxos. It’s full of the song and the sabre and Markov really digs into the Mediterranean warmth of the Adagio, its lyric impulse spiced with some harmonically astringent elements that interrupt its threnodic progress. The most Turkish feel comes in the finale, a driving dance motif conveyed with vivid immediacy in this none-too-subtly recorded but vivaciously played reading. The USSR Cinema Symphony is directed by Hajibeyov Niyazi.
The other concerto is Paganini’s B minor, No.2 with Rozhdestvensky. Markov’s characteristically tight, fast vibrato is on show here, rather more so than orchestral heft, which is notably missing in the backward balancing act of the Moscow studio. This is really of value only for the soloist’s characterful virtuosity.
After a deceptively introverted start to Corelli’s La folia, in the Kreisler arrangement, Markov ups the intensity level, and he keeps things alive cleverly through well-varied dynamics in the second movement Allegro of Handel’s Op.1 No.10 sonata. The morceaux are accompanied by Serefima Chernyakhovskaya. Markov displays plenty of temperament in these pieces, with some frisky tempo variations in the Kreisler-Boccherini confection, an erratically vibrated but buoyant Brahms Hungarian Dance, virtuosic left hand pizzicati and harmonics in Le Streghe, and a sensuously evocative Khachaturian Chanson-poème. He is imperturbably commanding in Kabalevksy’s Improvisation, plays Kreisler’s Gypsy Caprice – often overlooked – with flair and Falla’s La vida breve with masculine efficiency and no little colour.
There is a one-page biographical note about Markov in the booklet. The transfers are effective.
Markov was a formidable virtuoso with a very personal approach to vibrato usage. Some may baulk at it but throughout the course of these two very full discs one can hardly fail to be impressed both by his questing attitude to new repertoire and by his communicative bravura in more standard fare.
Contents Niccolo PAGANINI (1782-1840)
Violin concerto No. 2 in B minor, Op. 7 (1826) [30:51] Bidzina KVERNADZE (1928-2010)
Violin concerto (1956) [28:37] Ulvi Cemal ERKIN (1906-1972)
Violin concerto (1947) [28:26] Arcangelo CORELLI (1653-1713)
Violin sonata in D minor, Op. 5 No. 12 La Folia arr. Kreisler [10:19] George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Violin sonata in G minor Op. 1 No. 10 [10:25] Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
Violin sonata in F, Op. 10a No. 1; 2nd mvt Romance, arr. Kreisler as ‘Larghetto’ [2:29] Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)
Allegretto in G major in the style of Boccherini [3:03] Cyril Meir SCOTT (1879-1970)
Lotus Land, Op. 47 No. 1 (1905) arr. Kreisler [4:47] Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Hungarian Dance No. 17 in F sharp minor, arr. Kreisler [3:52] Niccolo PAGANINI
Sonata in A minor, Op. 3 No. 4 arr. Agarkov [5:03]
Le Streghe (Witches' Dance): Variations on a theme from Sussmeyer’s Il noce di Benevento, Op. 8 [12:27]
Caprice for solo violin, Op.1 No. 7 in A minor [3:52] Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978)
Chanson-poeme in E minor (1929) [4:59] Dmitry KABALEVSKY (1904-1987)
Improvisation, Op. 21 (1934) [4:00] Fritz KREISLER
Gypsy Caprice [4:44] Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)
Spanish dance from La Vida Breve (1905) arr. Kreisler [3:25]
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