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CD Review: Stanislav Venglevski


Stanislav Venglevski, bayan
Pasquale Laurino, violin I
Veronika Adanassieva, violin II
Roza Borisova, cello
Vesna, Piano


Novachek: Perpetuum Mobile
La Cumparsita (with piano quartet)
Astier/Rogues: Miss Karting
Frosini: Carnival of Venice
Por Una Cabeza (with piano quartet)
Rimski/Korsakov: Flight of the Bumble Bee
J.S.Bach: Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor
Kuznetzov: Saratovskie Perebori
La Violetera (with piano quartet)
Flight of Angels
Rachmaninov/Yaskevitch: Italian Polka
Wl. Solotarjow: Monastery of Ferapont
Jalousie (with piano quartet)
Fedow: Moldovian Dance
Frosini: Jolly Caballero

Total Time: 53:38
Released in 1995

Label: Sunlight Records, Inc.
Order from: The Classical Free-Reed, Inc. Online Gift Store

Review by Henry Doktorski:

Stanislav Venglevski is a native of the city of Tiraspol in the Republic of Moldova. He is a two-time first prize winner of the bayan competition in his home country and is a graduate of the Russian Academy of Music in Moscow, where he received his Masters degree in music, studying with the great bayanist Friedrich Lips. He has recently emigrated to the United States and presently lives in Chicago.

Despite Venglevski's impressive credentials, in my opinion this album leaves much to be desired; the performances are not consistent in quality. Some pieces are stunningly beautiful, such as the set of four tangos with the piano quartet: La Cumparsita, Por Una Cabenza, La Violetera and Jalousie. Such wonderful ensemble playing; sensitive, graceful, with superb tone and tasteful rubato! These four pieces were the high-point of the album for me; I wished that the tangos would go on forever.

Some of the bayan solos -- especially the Russian pieces -- were also excellent, such as Rachmaninov's "Italian Polka," Novachek's "Perpetuum Mobile" and Kuznetzov's "Saratovskie Perebori." Venglevski's bellow shakes are exciting. He is without doubt a very talented player. However, I felt that most of the rest of the CD was uninspiring and even deathly boring.

He attempts to do too much on this album and winds up doing too much of it poorly. The program is a hodge-podge of incredibly diverse (and I think perhaps incompatible) styles, ranging from the profound contemporary masterpiece "Monastery of Ferapont" by the great Russian bayanist-composer Vladimir Zolotaryov to frivolous and entertaining cafe-style French waltzes.

I found "Monastery of Ferapont" terribly disappointing. Venglevski seems to lack bellow control in certain places. In measure 3, why was the whole note chord accented, when according to the score, it should have been played at the same dynamic as the previous two bars? I thought it was curious that he should play E flats in the left-hand figures in measures 27, 31, 57, and 61, when the score is clearly marked E natural and his teacher, Friedrich Lips, plays the correct E naturals on his thrilling recording of the piece on the solo CD entitled "et exspecto." But most importantly, Venglevski's performance lacked the drama and tragedy which is essential for the success of these heavy pieces.

Bach's "Toccata and Fugue" (not "Toccata in Fugue" as printed on the CD back panel) is coarse and not very refined. I suggest that Venglevski listen to recordings of great organists such as Hans Fagius or Ton Koopman play this piece to get a better idea of the style.

The two waltzes, "Miss Karting" and "Flight of Angels" were unimpressive and sometimes notes in rapid passages were glossed over sloppily; they were not clear. I suggest that Venglevski listen to and emulate some of the renowned French musette players, such as Jo Basille.

Venglevski has great talent, but he deserves to record a much better CD than this. And the listening public, at least those who are familiar with the recordings of Jo Basille, Pietro Frosini, Friedrich Lips, Ton Koopman, Hans Fagius and others, deserves to hear better than this also. For Venglevski's next CD, I suggest that he concentrate only on the types of pieces that he plays exceptionally well and produce an album of consistent high-quality performances.

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