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An Audacious Performer

A recital by
Mikhail Zemtsov -
reviewed by

'... a powerful, involving reading.'

The Last Rose of Summer - Live at Castle Duivenvoorde. © 2004 Stemra Natural Acoustics

A recital of conspicuous interest and a substance belied by its misleading, somewhat faded, palm court-like title. In fact The Last Rose of Summer (one of three substantial items), had its origins in a poem by Thomas Moore (1779-1852). Sometime in the early 19th century it was set to an Irish folk tune. Here it becomes the theme for the last of Wilhelm Ernst's fearsomely difficult Six Polyphonic Etudes for solo violin [listen -- track 10, 3:51-5:26]. Much in the style of Paganini and constructed as a set of variations, it employs every technical trick in the book, and is tackled with enviable, gleeful diablerie by violist Zemtsov.

The fascinating and generous (73'30") live recital (minus applause) opens with the dramatic four movement Anton Rubinstein viola sonata, a whisker short of 28 minutes, reminiscent of Brahms or Max Bruch, and more than equal to any other Rubinstein chamber work that comes to mind.

Throughout this item and all that follows Zemtsov proves a robust, dark-toned, audacious performer; capable of affecting poetry yet unafraid of flinty aggression in combative passages -- this is a powerful, involving reading.

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Copyright © 2 August 2006 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


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