S0204. IGOR POLITKOVSKY, w. Eugeni Epstein, Inna Kollegorskaya &Tatyana Merkoulova (Pfs.): Dvořák-Kreisler , Balakirev, Tschaikowsky & Rachmaninov; Violin Sonatas (Taneyev & Rubinstein). Talents of Russia CD16279, recorded 1957-81. Final Sealed Copy! - 4600383162799
“Politkovsky died too young. He was born in 1932 and came from a musical and theatrical family. He studied with Yankelevich just after the War and then, from 1950, with Oistrakh. As with so many Soviet violinists he entered a number of competitions and was a laureate at all of them. Despite the fact that he performed far and wide and was a strong adherent of the core repertory, he recorded rather less often that some of his contemporaries. In addition to the two major native works in this disc - the Taneyev and Rubinstein sonatas - the only recorded examples of significant Russian repertoire that I’ve been able to trace is Grechaninov’s Op.87 sonata along with one or two vignette pieces. Of other large-scale works he recorded the Respighi b minor and - the only concerto I can find - the Bach Double with fellow fiddle player Yashvili.
So this major player has a rather frustrating discography, which makes the appearance of this disc in RCD’s ‘Russian Violin School’ line all the more welcome. The Rubinstein sonata is the Op.13 not the Op.19 and so less well known perhaps. It asks for some strenuous playing especially in the opening movement where the passagework difficulties are at a premium. The restless Moderato second movement is richly characterised by Politkovsky and Epstein, his piano colleague, and they do well by the rapid exuberance of the Scherzo. The finale opens mordantly but the subsequent lyric passages are a delight, and though still tied to the troublesome introspection of the opening bars, the sonata ends in a flourish. To all of these moods and reflections the two players respond with immediacy and strength.
The Taneyev is a standby for Russian players; Western players have seldom really taken it up. Once more the violinist is teamed with Epstein. This is a high pressure and fast reading. Politkovsky drives through it with greater tensile weight and a rather more ‘high wire’ tonal reserves. This metallic tension lends the work a different patina; less late Brahmsian, more nervy, quicksilver, considerably more insistent. The smaller pieces are enjoyable examples of the violinist moving in morceaux circles. There are plenty of lyric episodes in the Balakirev, the Tchaikovsky is stoic, quite brisk and unsentimental and the Dvořák-Kreisler subject to some hammy rewriting.
There are some rewarding examples of Igor Politkovsky’s art in this disc.”
- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWebInternational