Gramophone Editors Choice
BBC Music Magazine Chamber Choice
Maxim Rysanov is re-defining the art of viola playing for a new generation. This Ukrainian-born, London-based artist is, quite simply, one of the world’s finest and most charismatic viola players. “Romantic expression”, says Rysanov, is the thread that unites the half-dozen works on his solo debut disc with Taiwanese pianist Evelyn Chang. Spanning the better part of two centuries, all of the works on this recording stem from a particular romantic – or romanticized – perspective. And if anyone can coax the kaleidoscopic aspects of romance out of the viola it’s Maxim Rysanov, whether in Brahms’ vivacious FAE Sonata, Enescu’s robust Concert Piece, or Glinka’s delicate Sonata. The two movements by Bridge, Frank exhibit the composer’s own skill on the instrument, to which Franck’s Sonata lends its romantic ardour perfectly. The disc’s “encore” is an enchanting miniature written for Rysanov by Bulgarian-born, London-based Dobrinka Tabakova.
“One feels that Maxim Rysanov has a very special relationship with his Guadagnini viola, delighting in bringing out the particular qualities of its different registers - husky lower notes, brilliant high ones which, however, retain weight and intensity. He's well matched by the energy and vitality of Evelyn Chang's playing, strikingly so at the start of the CD (Brahms).” Gramophone
“…Rysanov makes out an excellent case for taking up the Franck A major Sonata, his arrangement judiciously steering a middle course between the violin and cello versions, but gaining an extra degree of richness of tone in the upper registers. The other items are no less striking. ...Rysanov and Chang achieve wonderfully veiled colours in both the Glinka Sonata and Dobrinka Tabakova's haunting Whispered Lullaby.” ***** BBC Music Magazine
“If you have the initial impression that this is a motley collection of pieces, lacking focus, do think again. For one thing, it makes an effective recital programme, the items setting one another off, leading up to the major work (Franck) and concluding with a perfect encore (Tabakova).
And the playing, in its technical command and imaginative grasp, is outstanding. One feels that Maxim Rysanov has a very special relationship with his Guadagnini viola, delighting in bringing out the particular qualities of its different registers – husky lower notes, brilliant high ones which, however, retain weight and intensity. He's well matched by the energy and vitality of Evelyn Chang's playing, strikingly so at the start of the CD (Brahms). On the following tracks (Glinka), she shows very different qualities; sparkling passagework and elegant lyrical expression, and she's equally convincing with the impressionistic sonorities of the Enescu.
Throughout the disc, the attention is constantly grabbed by powerfully expressive duo playing. Rysanov appears as a true virtuoso in the Enescu and in the second of the Bridge pieces, yet he's able to scale down his performance for the intimate, dreamy Tabakova Lullaby, and in the Glinka he brings a subtly individual quality to each melodic phrase. And there's a strong sense that Chang and Rysanov really enjoy playing together.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide