From the very beginning fantasies on the famous operas of the nineteenth century belonged to the onthe-road staples of traveling virtuosos. Volker Reinhold knows his way around this genre like no other musician. After his release of Pablo de Sarasate’s complete fantasies and paraphrases on two Super Audio CDs, the highly sought-after Schwerin concertmaster now again broadens our horizons with his piano partner Ralph Zedler and presents virtuoso opera arrangements spanning 150 years: discoveries are guaranteed!
La traviata of course is a must on every program. Antonio Bazzini transformed Verdi’s famous opera into an intimate character portrait of Violetta and in the process far transcended the virtuosic sequencing of popular hits – the otherwise inevitable “Brindisi” is not at all to be found. It is thus not surprising that both Mendelssohn and Schumann were captivated by the artistic depth of this Italian star violinist, who later became a professor of composition and whose students almost predictably included the budding opera stars Mascagni and Puccini.
Starring the Violin
Two contributions were penned by Henri Vieuxtemps. His fantasy on Bellini’s Norma is to be played in its entirety on the violin’s lowest string, which for this purpose is to be tuned a fourth higher, from G to C – à la Paganini! Here the youthful violin magician can very much be heard, while his late work on Gounod’s Faust reveals the mature artist: it is compelling in its form and spectacular in its counterpoint – for example, in the daring combination of march and waltz in the finale!
Reinhold and Zedler conclude their entertaining tour through one and a half centuries with two works that may not be so well known but for this precise reason arouse all the more interest. František Ondřiček looks eastward with his arrangement of Glinka’s A Life for the Tsar, and Igor Frolov, who was once David Oistrach’s assistant, supplies the dazzling conclusion with Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and its jazzy touches, of course including “Summertime.”