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Sergei Stadler began having piano lessons with his parents before studying the violin with Boris Sergeyev (a pupil of Polyarkin and thus a descendant of the Auer line) at the Leningrad Special Music School. There he met Mikhail Vaiman who exerted a powerful infl uence upon
his development. Later he studied at the Leningrad Conservatory and in Moscow, taking instruction from two of the most important Soviet violinists of the time, David Oistrakh and Leonid Kogan.

Stadler has performed extensively with the London Philharmonic, the Russian National Symphony, and the Dresden Staatskapelle Orchestras. He is founder, artistic director and chief conductor of the New St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra; as a conductor, he has given the first complete performances in Russia of Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie and Berlioz’s Les Troyens.

On record his playing strongly reflects the influence of his teachers, being characterised by a strongly articulated attack. This is heard in the richly romantic violin concerto of Carlo Giorgio Garofolo, which Stadler performs in his 1999 recording with technical command and aplomb. He displays a powerful tone in the first position (including open strings), which is a trait of Oistrakh’s late period, and the fiery finale is especially suggestive of both Oistrakh and Kogan in the bitter-sweet intensity for which they are famous. An equally striking 1983 performance of Paganini’s 24 Caprices testifies further to his technical assurance, although the tone in No. 1 is strong to the point of harshness. The second, however, is pleasingly atmospheric, whilst No. 13 (often described as ‘Devil’s Laughter’) is delivered stylishly with great resonance in the multiple-stopping.

Although either the Melodya original or the Denon Essentials transfer of Stadler’s 1983 Saint- Saëns Introduction et Rondo capriccioso is erroneously low-pitched, the playing is masterly and has a warmer, more Romantic edge, garnished by some superb up-bow staccati, whilst Stadler’s powerful vibrato brings richness to melodic passages.

Arensky’s Concerto (1986) affords similar characteristics, and is distinguished by fine orchestral accompanying by the Leningrad Philharmonic. In summary, this playing shows that some of the ‘holy fire’ of Kogan and especially Oistrakh is embodied by Stadler, who represents with them the best of the Soviet tradition of violinists.

© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Milsom (A–Z of String Players, Naxos 8.558081-84)

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