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Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra n° 1 in G minor, opus 25 – Concerto for Violin, Piano and Orchestra in D minor,
Ivo Stankov (violin), Lachezar Stankov (piano), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Linus Lerner (conductor)
Recording: Whitgift School, Croydon, United Kingdom (May 30-31, 2019) – 64’06
Meridian # CDE 84656 – Booklet in English

Lachezar and Ivo Stankov have been a strong fixture within their homeland of Bulgaria by pairing up on piano and violin, respectively. Their musical proficiencies have taken them around the world with an eventual London base. Having performed for more than 20 years, the two brothers return to Whitgift to record two of Mendelssohn’s most exuberant concertos.

Lachezar Stankov’s entrée into the Concerto in G minor by tutti orchestra gathers fitful orneriness, giving contrast to the second lyrical theme with a soft ostinato index. Balance has a strong conveyance on the piano; therefore, when Mendelssohn causes these frequent behavioral changes to occur, M. Stankov is there to give proper doses of pulls and draws. The composition is, thus, textured in contrasts with affable delectability. The “Andante” allows space for contemplation which enables silky, feather-like runs to take over in the middle portion. Inside the “Presto - Molto Allegro e vivace” is where M. Stankov’s magical chemistry takes over: he pushes the notes, but ever so politely, never orbiting into chaotic embellishment. There’s plenty of charisma in the closing arguments which are interwoven by orchestral interplay to permit complete satisfaction. Following along the same lines of vigueur as that of the Italian Symphony, the climatic ending is invigorating.

Although Mendelssohn originally called for full orchestra inside his Double Concerto in D minor, the piece is normally performed with string accompaniment. Meridian reverts back to the original article, and we can now hear how flushed and majestic an orchestral backdrop can provide. Long legato swells hoist the “Allegro” into a soaring climb that’s supported in the middle appointment (8’21), and it is something special. Ivo Stankov has a mind of his own, but he knows what he’s doing...there’s a verve of catalytic assuredness and absolute meticulousness. Never far is the underpinning of Bach-like élan that grounds the piece and places the soloists upon an illuminated dais. Symphonic lushness is unfurled during the opening bars of the “Adagio” that builds into Ivo Stankov’s solo clauses (2’37) with intermingling Lachezar Stankov commentary. From beginning to end, the portage is absorbing, though the tempo lingers a tad. It’s not long before we experience a prevailing piano/violin companionship. The recapitulation is demonstrative and carefully meted. It’s never fussy nor overblown…on the contrary, we hear repeated rings of radiance and skeins of velvety respectfulness. Ivo Stankov’s portato is exemplary, and the final bars evaporate into resplendissantes slivers.

Concurring with ConcertoNet’s critique of Ivo Stankov’s dramatic arc inside the Beethoven Sonatas, we hear an imposing deliverance of the “Allegro molto.” This is an exhilarating experience, a ‘broad canvassing’ of articulation by the Stankov brothers...immaculate to the tee! This is where Mendelssohn’s construct fluidly enables violin and piano to marriage with nonpareil. The parlance, though somewhat laborious, opens into a portal of classical knowledge. Listening to the exercise between these two soloists is like a surgical dissection which slices away with impeccable scrutiny: each note can easily be heard, separated, delineated, and nicely placed upon the ear. That is the gift this CD emits. The fluidity tussles, engages, releases and re-groups to give a pleasance of genteel glamour and absolute formality. The entire encapsulation wouldn’t be as effective had it not been for the indoctrination by Linus Lerner’s persnickety instruction...candid and permeable.

These two œuvres are true virtuosic gems, and Meridian Records has captured the soul and heart of Felix Mendelssohn in a vibrant musical re-landscaping. A strong “thumbs up” to the Stankov brothers.

[Note: respectfully, it should be pointed out the loss of soprano Vania Vatralova-Stankov, Ivo Stankov’s wife in 2017. This CD is dedicated to her. A singer with richly emboldened tones in the lines of Monserrat Caballé, Mlle Vatralova-Stankov and her husband formed their own ensemble. But that duo hasn’t been lost since an honorable step forward has been taken by merging the two Stankov brothers to preserve and to perpetuate their family bond. Perhaps this is why Ivo Stankov presents such an impassioned and kindred spirit of sensitivity through his 1787 Gagliano violin.]

Stankov Ensemble Website

Christie Grimstad




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