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Pancho VLADIGEROV (1899-1978)
String Concertos
Violin Concerto No 1 in F minor, Op 11 (1920) [31:01]
Violin Concerto No 2 in G minor, Op 61 (1968) [34:30]
Burlesque for violin and orchestra, Op 14 (1922) [11:08]
Bulgarian Paraphrases (Horo) for violin and orchestra, Op 18 (1925) [8:37]
Bulgarian Rhapsody (Vardar) for violin and orchestra, Op 16 (1922/58) [8:43]
Bulgarian Suite for violin and orchestra, Op 21 (1927) [6:52]
Bulgarian Dance for two violins and orchestra, Op 23 (1931) [5:21]
Elegiac Romance for Cello and Orchestra (1917) [8:25]
Concert Fantasy for Cello and Orchestra, Op 35 (1941) [12:25]
Georgi Badev (violin); Dina Schneidermann (violin); Emil Karmilarov (violin); Ventseslav Nikolov (cello)
Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra/Alexander Vladigerov
Bulgarian Chamber Orchestra/Pancho Vladigerov
rec. 1970-75, Balkanton Studios, Sofia, Bulgaria
CAPRICCIO C8064 [2 CDs: 129:20]

This is the third volume in Capriccio’s 18-disc Pancho Vladigerov Edition. After multi-disc sets that introduced his piano concertos and symphonies this one turns to his concertos for stringed instruments. These powerfully unreticent recordings were conducted by Alexander Vladigerov and by the composer (Bulgarian Dances) with the Bulgarian Chamber Orchestra and Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra. As with the previous two sets, the recordings were produced in the 1970s in Bulgaria. The violin soloists are Georgi Badev, Dina Schneidermann and Emil Karmilarov and two cello works are led by Ventseslav Nikolov.

The First Violin Concerto is one of two half-hour violin concertos, each in three movements. It is saturated in high-tide romance and inhabits the worlds of the Delius, Glazunov and Korngold concertos with the occasional slide into Bruch and not at odds with Walton’s calorific values. You can add to this a surging impressionistic wash that is almost like mature Scriabin. It’s a rich mix that at times immerses the listener in the superheated coruscations of Szymanowski’s early Concert Overture and Enescu’s First Symphony. There is a most impressive and endearing middle movement that well merits its cantabile designation. Almost half a century later, the Second Concerto is cut from the same weave and its stellar glisten and folk character remain convincing. The second movement - another Andante - adds a most authentic romantic line for the soloist. Both Badev and Schneidermann, each closely recorded, rise pleasingly to the singing heights and to virtuosic challenges.

The pieces on the second disc are all short by comparison with the concertos. The Burlesque has a lushness of expression and carries recollections or predictions of Rózsa, Miaskovsky and occasionally Brahms. The Bulgarian Paraphrases again adopts a well nourished full-lipped tone as it tracks through invention that bounces off the right side of sentimentality. There’s some Sibelian spiccato along the way. The Vardar Rhapsody glints and dances with a feral feel that suggests Hungarian (Kodĺly rather than Bartók) forebears. The Bulgarian Suite and Dance are sultry and very enjoyable. We end CD 2 with two pieces for cello and orchestra. The Elegiac Romance is the earliest item here, written in the depths of the Great War. Its downbeat poetic introspection broadly places this in the same constituency as the works for cello and orchestra by Bridge, Bantock and Glazunov. The almost 13-minute Concert Fantasy is at the other end of the mood scale from the Elegiac Romance. It’s the most extended piece on CD 2 and luxuriates in gutsy and fibrous tone from Nikolov, who is here able to (and does) parade his extrovert display skills.

There is much to enjoy on these two discs and especially for those with a taste for sugary vexation and expressive highs. The 1970s sound is no obstacle to enjoyment and the notes by Christian Heindl are in German and English.
Rob Barnett



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