About this Recording
8.570583 - FROLOV: Concert Fantasy on themes from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess / Divertissement / Romance / Spanish Fantasy
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Igor Alexandrovich Frolov (b. 1937)
Compositions and Arrangements for Violin and Piano

 

Igor Alexandrovich Frolov was born in Moscow in 1937, the son of a violin teacher and conductor, who also held the position of first violin in the State Radio Symphony Orchestra. His mother was an accompanist at the Moscow Conservatory in the classes of David Oistrakh and Abram Yampolsky. The young Igor grew up with music from the day he was born, waking and sleeping with the sounds of violin and piano, listening to the playing of his parents and their students. Growing up in a musically rich environment made it natural for him to want to learn an instrument, and, as often happens in musical families, his father became his first teacher. Frolov still keeps the small violin on which he began his first lessons as a souvenir of his parents. At the age of five he began studying with a well-known Soviet pedagogue Boris Belenky, and in 1955 he entered the Moscow Conservatory. There he continued his studies with one of the founders of the Soviet violin school, Abram Yampolsky, and completed his musical education in the class of David Oistrakh in 1965.

Frolov’s performing career began in 1957 when, as a second-year student at the Conservatory, he won the International Youth and Student Festival Competition. The ensuing years brought success in both national and international competitions: he was one of the finalists at the All-Union Violin Competition in 1959, the International Enescu Competition in Bucharest in 1961, and the International Marguerite Long and Jacques Thibaud Competition in Paris in 1967. From then on Frolov has continued performing. He travelled across the then Soviet Union and Russia several times, playing in the most prestigious concert halls, from Moscow to small towns of Baikal-on-Amur. He is also a frequent guest at concert venues in Spain, India, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Great Britain, and all former Socialist countries. He also performs frequently with various artists, as a soloist, and with many orchestras and chamber ensembles. He is the artistic director and conductor of the Moscow Camerata, founded by Igor Zhukov in the 1990s. Although Frolov likes travelling and performing, he always looks forward to his return to Moscow and to his work as a professor at the Conservatory.

Frolov never studied composition formally, but he began to compose on the advice of Oistrakh, who suggested a new cadenza to Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5. Frolov came up with three different cadenzas, but that attempt was the first and last for many years: his first composition appeared only in 1989. Although he grew up in the classical tradition, he remembers liking jazz from his childhood. When he was a student at the Moscow Conservatory, jazz was banned and it was practically impossible to obtain recordings, but Frolov went to screenings of foreign films and, on his return home, would attempt to recreate the harmonies and improvisations of his favourite melodies. Interest in this style has stayed with him throughout his life, and the elements of jazz can be found in many of his compositions. His thorough knowledge of the violin from a performer’s perspective ensures that all his works are well written for the instrument. His compositions and arrangements for one and two violins and piano are frequently performed in Russia and abroad, by such violinists as Maxim Vengerov and Vadim Repin among many others.

In Etude No. 1, for violin and piano, Frolov took Kreisler’s study for the right hand and composed the piano accompaniment. The only change he made to the violin part was to its tempo, asking the performer to play it at twice the speed of the original, so that the whole piece lasts barely over thirty seconds. Its breathtaking speed and virtuostic writing place considerable demands on a performer and make it a popular encore with audiences.

Love Song is by Hermínio de Almeida, a Brazilian researcher, composer and arranger of classical and popular music. This romantic and passionate melody is presented in Frolov’s own interpretation.

Spanish Fantasy for violin and piano was written while Frolov was on tour in Barcelona. Spain is one of the composer’s favourite countries, and this piece depicts his impression of the place and its music, energetic, optimistic, and bursting with life.

In Dym, an arrangement for two violins and piano of Jerome Kern’s Smoke Gets in Your Eyes from the musical Roberta, Frolov takes the first eight bars of the theme, develops it, and composes the middle section and the piano accompaniment. Here lyrical solo violin episodes alternate with the passionate violin duet, and the work concludes disappearing into nothingness, like a puff of smoke that vanishes into the air.

Scherzo-Souvenir, for two violins and piano, was written for a competition among children’s music schools in Moscow. Lively, playful and sparkling music slows down two-thirds of the way through, only to gather pace again and make an excited dash for an unexpectedly subdued coda.

Piece in Blues Style, for violin and piano, was composed while Frolov was on tour in the United States. This piece in the blues style enables the composer to unfold his melodic ideas in a relaxed and slow-paced atmosphere.

Divertissement, for two violins and piano, was written in 1979 for Frolov’s daughter, who was studying the violin at a music school in Moscow. The beginning of this work brings back to mind the music of the old masters, particularly J.S. Bach. Within the first minute the piece very smoothly and unexpectedly moves into an energetic and lively jazzy section, where it stays until the end, despite a few attempts to return to the mood of the opening bars. Beautifully written for two violins and piano, this scintillating gem is witty and entertaining.

Duet in Old Style, for two violins, was composed while Frolov was on tour in Ireland. This is another piece for the composer’s daughter. Another of those Bachian themes, complete with trills and ornamentation, reflects Frolov’s classical training. The slowly unfolding lyrical duet of the two violins is measured and serious, with a slightly faster and more rhythmical middle section.

The Easy Winners – Ragtime is an arrangement for two violins and piano of a piece by Scott Joplin. Here the arrangement of the first eight bars of Joplin’s piece is very lively and entertaining. Once again, Frolov composed his own middle section and piano accompaniment.

Melody, is an arrangement for violin and piano of a work by Hermínio de Almeida. Frolov presents this beautiful, dreamy, and romantic melody in his own arrangement, with lucid textures and lyrical, atmospheric writing.

Swedish Farewell Valse, for violin and piano, is an arrangement of a piece by Serge Gais. After one of his concerts in Stockholm, Frolov attended a banquet, where on the last page of the menu he discovered a fragment of this melody. During the night he arranged it for piano and violin, and played the new work as an encore at his concert the following evening. When he was honoured with a standing ovation, the composer was very surprised, not realising that the melody he had arranged the night before was one of the most popular tunes in Sweden. He named it the Swedish Farewell Valse.

Romance, for violin and piano, was written in 1989 and is Frolov’s first work. The Romance became very popular, and is often performed in both Russia and abroad. This passionate, full-bodied, and expressive piece explores the singing qualities of the instrument.

Concert Fantasy on Themes from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Op. 19, for violin and piano, dates from 1991. The work was written in three short weeks, keeping the composer awake at nights during all this time. Frolov calls this composition ‘a poem about love’ that tells the story of two very different people, who fall in love against all odds. It begins with a short piano introduction, after which a theme of Porgy appears in the violin. Other themes used here are those of Serena’s Lament, Sportin’ Life, and Summertime. This work contains various changes of mood, and a multitude of virtuosic passages for the violin, before the brilliant coda concludes this challenging fantasy, popular with both performers and audiences.

The popular For Heaven’s Sake by songwriters Don Meyer, Elise Bretton and Sherman Edwards is here arranged for piano and violin by Konstantin Dyubenko.

Anastasia Belina


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