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Lontano Records Limited

Review of LNT132: Mihailo Trandafilovski: Chamber Music

Maria Nockin, Fanfare

Mihailo Trandafilovski: Chamber Music Violinist Mihailo Trandafilovski, who is from Skopje, Macedonia, earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Michigan State University. He received his master’s and doctorate from the Royal College of Music in London, where he has also taught. In 2006, he became a member of the Kreutzer Quartet. Other members of the Kreutzer Quartet are violinist Peter Sheppard Skærved, violist Morgan Goff, and cellist Neil Heyde. Skærved plays the Stradivarius violin once owned by Joseph Joachim on Six Pieces from Čekori, the String Quartet, and the Violin Concerto.

Strike-Flow is a very good description of the music to which the title is applied. It has the type of rhythm that one associates with an Eastern European folk dance. The first movement establishes a rhythmic pattern and the second brings in many interesting, easily flowing harmonics. The third movement then combines the two aspects of the composition.

The word čekori means “steps” in Macedonian. Trandafilovski calls his 38 short compositions in varying degrees of difficulty “steps” because each works on a particular skill a young violinist needs to learn. Most of the Čekori are duets to be played by teacher and student. On this disc Trandafilovski and Skærved play six of these dissonant gems with great skill and present them in an order that makes sense as a concert program.

Crystal Threads is a sparkling piece with unusual intervals and striking harmonies. Caroline Balding of Lontano plays it with emphasis on its ability to sparkle under the musical sun. A-de-scent rises and falls with the beat of Macedonian folk dance. There is an interesting combination here of ancient, traditional dance mixed with the most modern of musical ideas.

The String Quartet is Trandafilovski’s most classically framed offering. The first movement is calm, but the second is a wildly evocative dance that invites more than casual toe-tapping. Combining these different aspects of Macedonian folklore, the third movement gives us a fascinating look at the possibilities of 21st-century harmonies.

Skærved plays the two-movement, 13-minute Violin Concerto with gusto. At first it offers half tones and percussive, sometimes strident material, but it is always propulsive and keeps the listener’s interest. The second movement is a bit of a surprise because it is quite melodic. It’s not a traditional melody, but it is quite singable. A long passage that puts the violin out in front makes the concerto a worthy showpiece for a virtuoso, and Skærved fills the bill admirably. At the end, there is no grand finale, just a memorable shimmer like the sun shining on a long, continuously flowing river.

The CD’s sonics give you the unvarnished sound of these instruments. It’s not designed to beautify tones, but it gives the listener an accurate reproduction of the basic instrumental sounds.

Other reviews of this CD:

Rob Barnett, MusicWeb
David DeBoor Canfield, Fanfare