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Manoug Parikian (violin)
Concertos and Sonatas
rec. 1956-1966
DOREMI DHR8095-8 [4 CDs: 314 mins]

This newly-released 4 CD set from the Toronto-based Doremi label focuses on the British concert violinist Manoug Parikian (1920-1987). Much of what is included has already seen the light of day on the Forgotten Records label, but many will welcome the fact that this sizeable roster has been gathered together, for the first time, under one roof. Parikian hailed from Mersin, Turkey, but studied in London. His career as a concertmaster saw him at the helm of several orchestras: the Liverpool Philharmonic (1947–48), London's Philharmonia Orchestra (1949–57) and the Yorkshire Sinfonia (1976 to 1978). In addition, he was musical director of the Manchester Camerata (1980 to 1984), and led the English Opera Group Orchestra between 1949 and 1951, participating in various Aldeburgh Festival concerts as a chamber musician as well as in opera productions. He was also a sought-after teacher at the Royal Academy of Music. A champion of contemporary composers, many wrote works for him, including Thea Musgrave, Gordon Crosse, Alexander Goehr and Hugh Wood. Parikian died in Oxford in 1987, aged 67.

The traditional readings of the two Bach Concertos may not be to everyone's taste, especially those who prefer the leaner world of HIP performances. My preference is for the former, as propounded by the likes of Szeryng, Grumiaux and Menuhin. If you fall into this camp, then you won't be disappointed with what's on offer here. Comfortable tempi, richness of tone, purity of intonation and deftly crafted expressive phrasing. With outer movements vital and engaging, the slow movements are ardent in their intensity. Yet, there's no over-indulgence; everything is informed by good taste and intelligent musicianship.

Taken from two Guilde Internationale du Disque LPs (MMS-2206 and MMS- 2092), Parikian joins forces with Walter Goehr and three different orchestras in four of Mozart's five violin concertos. The recordings date from around 1957-1958. The concertos ooze charm and elegance and all four performances bring these captivating works fully to life, with plenty of personality. In each, the soloist is suitably profiled in the mix and Goehr makes an excellent collaborator, fully responsive to nuances and shifts of mood. There's a gossamer-like delicacy to Parikian’s playing, which suits this music down to the ground. It's refreshing to hear a different cadenza in the Third Concerto than the ubiquitous Sam Franko. I don't know it's author, maybe it’s one of Parikian’s own. His phasing in the Adagio of No. 3 is contoured with natural grace, and superbly accompanied by muted strings. The Fifth's Turkish Rondo is spirited and exotically ornamented and, more importantly, doesn't sound too frenetic, as is sometimes the case.

Patrician elegance and nobility of expression stamp Parikian's approach to the Beethoven Violin Concerto. He takes a spacious view of the first movement, with Alexander Krannhals with him all of the way. He employs the Joachim cadenza, not as fine as the one by Kreisler, in my view. The Larghetto is warmly lyrical, and the finale has sufficient vim and vigour, ending the work triumphantly. The recording dates from 1956. That same year, the violinist collaborated with Massimo Amfitheatrof (cello) and Ornella Santoliquido (piano) in the composer's Triple Concerto. The orchestra is the Rome Philharmonic under the direction of Walter Goehr. It's a partnership of equals with each soloist given the opportunity to shine; there’s no jostling for the limelight. A good recording balance between all three is established throughout.

In October 1960, Parikian teamed up with the Brazilian-born pianist Magda Tagliaferro to record that perennial pairing, Beethoven's Spring and Kreutzer sonatas. The duo's Spring Sonata is bright and sunny and anticipates new life. The slow movement similarly reflects renewal, with the Scherzo light and capricious. The final Rondo again looks forward with optimism. The opening movement of the Kreutzer Sonata is one of turbulent intensity, where combat and fury contrasts with ardent lyricism. In the second movement the variations are imaginatively wrought, and the finale has riveting rhythmic punch and bite. The recordings derive from a Concert Hall LP (MMS 2222) and the sound quality is outstanding for its vintage. How regrettable that this pair didn't record a complete cycle.

I'm pleased that Parikian took the Busoni Concerto into his repertoire, and the live airing we have here dates from 20 October 1966. In one movement, it's a delightful work of modest proportions that has never attained the popularity it deserves. The work is richly melodic and we can thank Szigeti for his advocacy. The performance here originates from a Rococo LP (2036), and has scrubbed up rather nicely, with the soloist well-spotlighted.

The set is a worthy tribute to a distinguished violinist who made a valuable contribution to British musical life. If I were to single out the highlights, for me these would be the Mozart concertos and the two Beethoven sonatas. My only regret is that contemporary composers are notably absent.

This is a cherishable collection, lovingly restored.

Stephen Greenbank


Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Violin Concerto no.1 in A minor, BWV1041 [15:44]
Violin Concerto no.2 in E major, BWV1042 [19:13]
Violin Sonata in E minor, BWV1023 [11:55]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Triple Concerto in C major for piano, violin and cello, op.56 [35:51]
Violin Concerto in D major, op.61 [45:54]
Violin Sonata no.5 in F major, op.24 'Spring' [23:08]
Violin Sonata no.9 in A major, op.47 'Kreutzer' [34:01]
Ferruccio BUSONI (1866-1924)
Violin Concerto in D major, op.35a [23:41]
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
Thais: Meditation [5:54]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Violin Concerto no.1 in B flat major, K207 [21:20]
Violin Concerto no.3 in G major, K216 [22:25]
Violin Concerto no.4 in D major, K218 [25:01]
Violin Concerto no.5 in A major, K219 'Turkish' [29:47]

Collaborating artists:
Herbert Hoffman (harpsichord)
Alexander Molzahn (cello)
Massimo Amfitheatrof (cello)
Ornella Santoliquido (piano)
Magda Tagliaferro (piano)
Baden Chamber Orchestra/Alexander Krannhals
Colonne Orchestra, Paris/Walter Goehr
Amsterdam Philharmonic Society Orchestra/Walter Goehr
Hamburg Chamber Orchestra/Walter Goehr
Radio Frankfurt Symphony Orchestra/Alexander Krannhals
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Jascha Horenstein
Philharmonia Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan

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