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Alexander Ivanov – Kramskoy : Gragnani, Paganini, Giuliani : Chamber Music for violin and guitar : CD

GRAGNANI: Duet for Guitar and Violin in A; Duet for Guitar and Violin in F: PAGANINI: Sonata No1 for violin and Guitar in A Op2; Sonata No10 in Am Op3: GIULIANI: Trio for Violin, Cello and Guitar in A.

Alexander Ivanov – Kramskoy (Guitar), Leonid Kogan (Violin) and Fyodor Luzanov (Cello - in the Giuliani)

Melodiya: RCID 22694181


These recordings originate from the 1950s, but only appeared this century on CD, hence the clear , but slightly dated sound of some of the playing here, not that that should put anyone off, because although the recordings sound a little different to what might happen nowadays, they are still very clear and not at all second – rate.

Filippo Gragnani was an Italian violinist and guitarist who came from an instrument - making family who eventually devoted his life to the guitar and became known as a virtuoso performer, and who wrote about 20 known compositions, two of which are recorded here. There are three movements in each of them here, and if you wonder what style there are in,  the trio in A  is  very Mozartean in its sound and harmonies but the other in F  is more developed in its sound and definitely not as Mozartean as No1. There is plenty for each of the players to do in both these trios and they are shown to be fine players.

It is well – known that Paganini also played Guitar and Violin and indeed to a certain degree wrote for both, but that his violin playing was on a different level to most other players so immediately you start listening to the Paganini it makes you aware how virtuosic the violin part is, and to a large extent how simple the guitar one is! Both Paganini’s Sonatas here are just two movements. The first one, No1 in A Op2 begins with a beautiful opening section, an Adagio where the violinist here really shines, followed by a very short Polonaise which although light-weight in style is a nice friendly piece. The other Sonata is almost identical in size of movements, and begins with an Andante Largo that again really shows how good the violinist has to be to play it, and a final Allegretto that leaps around  somewhat and makes , yet again, for a fine conclusion, if again little short at under 2 minutes in length.

The final work by Mauro Giuliani is in three movements and introduces the cellist Fyodor Luzanov for what is a Trio for Violin Cello and Guitar .It begins with a Serenada, continues with a Scherzo and concluding with an Alla Pollacca. As with a lot of Giuliani, it is pleasant, and nice to listen to but probably the least interesting piece, musically speaking. However that is obviously just my own personal opinion!

So in essence if you like your music very definitely from the Classical period in music then you are off to a good start here. The age of the recordings here is surprisingly not much of a problem as the playing is very clear, and the recordings very good indeed.


Chris Dumigan

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