Roman Mints: Dance of Shadows
Roman Mints declares in the booklet-note that ‘we have reached a point where new recordings of mainstream repertoire are basically of interest only to the performers themselves, and their hard-core fans’. It’s a strange argument – if those in Brahms’s time can only have hoped to hear, say, his symphonies a couple of times in their lifetime and now we can hear them whenever we want, surely as many opportunities to hear different performances is more appropriate than it ever has been?
By his own argument, Mints may have nothing new to offer in, for instance, his performance of the Ysaÿe that Tai Murray didn’t offer in her astonishing complete recording of 2011. But it’s an excellent performance nonetheless: there are flashes of extraordinary playing – the runs in the final two movements of the Ysaÿe, in particular, and Schnittke’s elegantly ironic A Paganini – and to set the disc up in the terms he has needlessly raises the expectations of the listener from satisfying musical encounter to life-changing musical experience. Listen to this as a disc by a great violin virtuoso, though, who is reassuringly at home in the difficult repertoire he presents here, and it is not in the least disappointing. Indeed, there is much to recommend it – the perfect tuning, poise and control that glide through the multitude of styles that Schnittke uses to evoke the mercurial Paganini, and the second of the six Etudes tanguistiques for violin (or flute) in particular.