Rysanov: In Schubert's Company
First, a name to watch, if you’re not already watching her, that is: Dobrinka Tabakova, Bulgarian-born, a prize-winning pupil of some of the finest living composers and who even now has a significant corpus of work to her name. Maxim Rysanov’s collection ‘In Schubert’s Company’ includes an impressive Tabakova calling card, her Fantasy Homage to Schubert. Even among an elevated community of Schubert transcriptions and visitations – Zender’s Winterreise and Berio’s Rendering, reaching back to Joachim’s Grand Duo and Felix Mottl’s version of the Fantasie for piano duet – Tabakova’s 11 minute tone picture, where ever so gradually the tremulous opening of the violin Fantasie emerges from the mists as if out of a dream, is a stroke of genius. It tails a spirited account of Schubert’s Fifth Symphony where for the Trio of the Menuetto, after a marked ritenuto and a brief pause (2'06"), Rysanov and his Riga Sinfonietta slow the pulse and trace Schubert’s dialoguing woodwind lines with unusual clarity.
Other novel variations on Schubert include Leonid Desyatnikov’s Wie der alte Leiermann …, ‘a commentary, a sort of critique (in a positive sense)’, as the composer himself puts it. For openers Rysanov sounds a harsh solo statement of the principal theme, before a community of strings gathers round in comforting support. Pärt-like in its effect, this winning piece levels with Tabakova’s Fantasy for impact. As it happens, the programme is rounded off by her arrangement of that same song for viola and orchestra. Sergey Akhunov’s In Schubert’s Company is based on the Adagio and Rondo concertante, D487, while his more dramatic Der Erlkönig visits Schubert’s ghostly dialogue without too much in the way of direct quotation but with a visceral pull that’s easily a match for the original Lied.
Rysanov’s own ‘straight’ transcriptions include the Arpeggione Sonata, the G minor Violin Sonata, D408, and the Polonaise in B flat, D580, all bearing witness to a humbling facility that allows the instrument access to a tonal range which runs the gamut from violinistic brilliance to a rich, nut-brown sonority suggestive of the middle registers of a cello. Agile, expressive and with a mastery of line and dynamics, Rysanov is a prince among viola players, and this is one of his finest albums to date.