Saschko Gawriloff studied in Leipzig with Gustav Havemann, and with Martin Kovacz (a pupil of David Oistrakh and Jenő Hubay) in Berlin. In a distinguished career as both performer and teacher (his pupils include Franz Peter Zimmermann), Gawriloff has premièred various works including, in 1992, Ligeti’s Violin Concerto, which is dedicated to him and which he performed some seventy times in the following decade. He is a member of several illustrious chamber groups, including a trio with Alfons Kontarsky and Klaus Storck formed in 1971, and the Robert Schumann Trio with Johannes Goritzki and David Levine. He has also performed contemporary music with Siegfried Palm and Bruno Canino.
Gawriloff ’s 1996 Beethoven Romances are entirely conventional, with well-controlled but ever-present vibrato and a clean, well-sculpted tone. The healthy pace of his Romance in G elevates it above his other recordings of similar repertoire. Pfitzner’s Violin Concerto (1989) makes the most of initially rather obscure musical language, although it sounds somewhat distant. The tone is a little unsteady and thin in the first movement, but the cadenza is very focused and accurate. Luening’s Sonata No. 3 (written in a curiously laconic and yet academic style) is played with great intensity and a notably fast vibrato—a tone that, perhaps, marks out Gawriloff ’s ‘modernist’ credentials, well suited to post-Romantic repertoire. Despite some very poor tuning at the start of the second movement this is a compelling and worthy performance, recorded non-commercially c. 1950.
The Bartók sonatas (1999) are rather dry and puritanical—dutiful, rather than impassioned. The second movement of the Sonata No. 1 sounds too measured, and its finale lacks rhythmic propulsion. Nonetheless, Gawriloff is very fastidious, with excellent ensemble, clarity and precision, and these are worth hearing (the Sonata No. 1 being more interesting than No. 2).
Ligeti’s Concerto, recorded at IRCAM in 1993 shortly after its première, is a more enticing prospect. Gawriloff is an engaging interpreter of a work that is still, for many, rather obscure. He blends and interweaves artfully with a range of acoustic and electronically-generated sounds, creating a fascinating, almost hypnotic sound-world. The folksong-like second movement, with extensive use of senza-vibrato tone, is powerful and direct whilst the gossamer textures of the third movement are finely judged and balanced. Thus it would seem to be recent repertoire that is Gawriloff’s natural metier.
© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Milsom (A–Z of String Players, Naxos 8.558081-84)