Dunja Lavrova

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"My Dusty Gramophone" reviews:

"Intentionally recorded close to the microphones without reverb in order to recreate the sound of the "golden age", Lavrova gives her all with winning spontaneity in a series of Heifetz favourites." 

- "BBC Music Magazine" (UK)

"She masters these miniatures with such nonchalant, straightforward elegance, with such immaculate tenderness, that one even forgets the great predecessors and falls for her nostalgic charm and seductive magic." 

- "JPC" (Germany)

"This disc is a fascinating experiment that works. Lavrova certainly proves that she is an exquisite artist. Her performance of Clair de Lune, for example, is, quite simply, one of the most emotionally moving performances I have ever heard - she practically sings the music in your ear, as a love song. This is also the only time I've ever heard "Bess, you is my woman now" played with so much intensity, and extraordinary sensitivity of phrasing, that it sounds like better music than it is. Her performance of Fritz Kreisler's transcription of Albeniz's Tango has all the schmaltz of the master himself. If your tastes run towards this kind of recital, you'll certainly want Lavrova's disc. She has a sweeter tone that Heifetz himself and her playing is extraordinarily expressive. Lavrova is a communicative artist, and I surely look forward to her future recordings."

Lynn Rene Bayley, "Fanfare" Magazine (USA)

"Dunja Lavrova's commitment is palpable. Her tone is attractively focused and her intonation is excellent. The main component that I appreciate in Lavrova's playing is refinement. She’s a subtle stylist, using elegant position changes and expressive devices to make her points. Lavrova is a very stylish exponent of this repertoire. This album a fine calling card for the young violinist. "

Jonathan Woolf"Music Web International"

"On paper you’re tempted to dismiss this disc’s selling point as an attention-seeking gimmick, but read violinist Dunja Lavrova’s engaging sleeve essay and all becomes clear. At first it’s as if we’re listening to a remastered analogue LP from the 1950s: the violin is recorded incredibly closely, sometimes to the detriment of the piano accompaniment, the dynamic range uncomfortably constricted. But the actual playing is exceptionally good, Lavrova’s performances a deliberate throwback to the scratchy Jascha Heifetz records she listened to as a child. This CD’s accidental starting point came when Lavrova heard herself recorded closely on a mobile phone, and a note from her hard-working sound engineer describes the how vintage valve microphones and long takes were deployed to give the illusion of time travel. Your ears do adjust very quickly.

Many of the Heifetz arrangements were new to me. Like a delicious transcription of “Bess, you is my woman now”, a tantalising taster of what the concerto which Heifetz asked Gershwin to compose might have sounded like. And the spiritual Deep River, beautifully showcasing Lavrova’s warm cantabile playing. Halffter’s “Danza de la Gitana” is a stand-out, along with a smouldering Albeniz tango. There are snatches of Debussy, Rachmaninov and Schumann, all of them exceptionally good. I was seduced within seconds: pianist Konstantin Lapshin is a game accompanist, Lavrova’s charisma and sheer chutzpah turning what is essentially a covers album into something very classy indeed. Enormous fun."

- Graham Rickson for "The Arts Desk"

"Long takes and minimal editing were evidently the order of the day on this tasty disc of violinist Dunja Lavrova's personal favourites. As a result we get honesty and authenticity, as well as some delicious playing. Dunja's hero is the legendary Jascha Heifetz, and she has quite a lot of his coolness. She is also a virtuoso, as the last part of Sarasate's Zigeunerweisen demonstrates. It's not merely her delicate rubato but also the silkiness and gentle warmth that I shall remember for a long time. The selection mixes the very familiar and the pretty rare. Most entertaining."

– Ivor Solomons, "Classical Ear" (UK)

Bruce Reader ("Classical Reviewer", December 2014):

"My Dusty Gramophone" brings an interesting and wonderfully played recital from violinist Dunja Lavrova and Konstantin Lapshin that, through a novel new recording, brings back memories of classic discs of the past

Dunja Lavrova opens this unique recital with Wieniawski’s Polonaise No. 1 in D Major, Op. 4. The piano opens at a normal distance but when Lavrova enters it is much more forward. Soon however, one is pulled into the intimate, wonderfully virtuosic playing. With the microphones this close one can take in every detail, texture and nuance; of which there are many in this violinist’s extremely fine playing.

With Tchaikovsky’s Melodie from Souvenir d'un lieu cher, Op. 42 this recording works even better with Tchaikovsky’s beautiful piece developing a hushed, intimate quality even in the more lively passages. There is some exquisite playing. Rachmaninov’s  Romance Op. 6: No. 1 has a lovely forward sweep with Lavrova’s extra portamento and lovely timbres finely done.

There is a lovely Latin lilt to Heifetz’s arrangement of Ernesto Halffter’s Danza de la gitana from his Sonatina. Here the nostalgic effect works to perfection with the sort of piece one remembers from old discs. There is some terrific playing towards the end. Debussy’s famous Clair de lune from his Suite bergamasque is beautifully played in an arrangement by A. Roelens and sounds very much of the past with the gentle, close recording, as though looking through into another world, but without the crackles.

There is an attractive flowing performance of Schumann’s Intermezzo from his Violin Sonata No. 3 in A minor with some fine textures produced from Lavrova’s gut strings extremely well brought out in this recording. Heifetz is the arranger of Riccardo Drigo’s Valse Bluette from Arlekinada where this violinist brings a lovely touch with her lovely sonorities and fine light technique.

There is more Rachmaninov in Heifetz’s arrangement of Daisies, Op. 38: No. 3 with some exquisite high notes and lovely textures. Such a recording wouldn’t be complete without Paganini who is represented here by his Cantabile in D Major, Op. 17 giving us an opportunity to hear so many of Lavrova’s fine musical attributes with the gut strings really adding something here.

Shostakovich at first sight seems an unlikely composer for such a disc yet this transcription by D.M. Tsiganov of the Prelude No. 10 in C-Sharp Minor from his 24 Preludes, Op. 34 brings the same historic feel despite Shostakovich’s modern harmonies. There are some terrific violinistic moments. There is true beauty in this performance of Debussy Beau Soir in another arrangement by Heifetz where Lavrova’s lovely sonorities and subtle feel for this piece are wonderful.

Gershwin’s "Bess, you is my woman" from Porgy and Bess arranged by Heifetz works so well with Lavrova bringing fine sonorities and her lovely portamento and some remarkably fine double stopping. Deep River (traditional, arranged by Heifetz) is hugely attractive with a languid flow, fine fluid piano accompaniment from Konstantin Lapshin and superb harmonies and textures from Lavrova.

These artists bring an old world feel to Albeniz’s Tango from Espana, Op. 165 arranged by that other legendary violinist, Fritz Kreisler. Similarly with Manuel Ponce’s Estrellita arranged by Heifetz they brings an old fashioned ‘salon’ style beautifully played with fine accompaniment from Lapshin.

Dunja Lavrova and Konstantin Lapshin then bring us three pieces from Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20, the Moderato where Lavrova spins some extremely fine sounds, an exquisite, heartfelt little Un peu plus lento and a terrific Allegro molto Vivace where both players really throw themselves into it with some particularly accomplished playing from Lavrova.

This disc ends with the traditional piece Nana from Manual de Falla’s 7 Canciones populares espanolas where there is more atmospheric playing and sound quality before an exquisitely hushed conclusion.

- Bruce Reader ("Classical Reviewer", December 2014)

Performance reviews:

Conway Hall  - Brahms Horn Trio

'The horn trio was strongly characterised by Dunja Lavrova (Violin)'
Peter Grahame Woolf - Musical Pointers Website