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CD Review


Alexander Sitkovetsky Plays Romantic Russian Rarities

Alexander Sitkovetsky, violin
Olga Sitkovetsky, piano
EMI Angel 5 57025 2 DDD 59:12
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His relatives include violinists Julian (great uncle) and Dmitri Sitkovetsky (uncle), and pianist Bella Davidovich (aunt); his mother Olga Sitkovetsky is a talented pianist as well. How could young Alexander (or "Sasha," as Angel introduces him here) not have music running up and down his DNA?

Sasha, who was born in Moscow in 1983, studied with his Uncle Dmitri, and at length in London with Hu Kun. Master classes with Yehudi Menuhin, Maxim Vengerov, Zvi Zeitlin, and others filled out his musical education. Menuhin's influence was especially strong. The two violinists met in 1990, and the older one took the younger under his wing. They performed together, and, at Menuhin's funeral, Sasha delivered a musical eulogy.

This debut CD presents the 17-year-old Sasha in "Romantic Russian Rarities." (One could argue that the repertoire is neither entirely Romantic nor entirely rare, however.) For me, a particularly good reason to hear this CD is the Zimbalist fantasy, which I've never encountered before. It's an exciting piece of virtuoso writing, and it effectively distills the… well, fantastic elements in Rimsky-Korsakov's score. Fiddle fanciers will want this CD to hear proof that not all of the Earth's treasures have been mined yet.

Sasha seems to have the tools needed for an international career as brilliant as that of anyone else in his family, and possibly even more brilliant. His agility, strength, and tone production are first-class for a violinist of any age. In time, I hope that his playing will become as melting as it is dazzling, as human as it is efficient. Perhaps my perceptions of desired growth in these areas are a function of his particular violin, which is not identified in Angel's booklet notes or press kit. Sometimes, the difference between a fine violinist and a great one lies in the match between the musician and the instrument.

Angel wants to sell this CD to a wide audience, perhaps even to the listeners who purchase "boy band" discs, if the cover design reflects the label's true intentions. Please, let's not make this handsome young musician into a sort of male cousin to Charlotte Church. Instead, let's give him the space to let his talent mature. This is an impressive debut recital. I will be disappointed if the next CD from Alexander Sitkovetsky isn't more impressive yet.

Copyright © 2001, Raymond Tuttle