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Rowland and Kudritskaya demonstrated their unique musical partnership impressively, and their well-balanced interplay was not only beautiful to listen to but also exciting to watch

Concerto Net, Wiebke Kuester

Kitzbühel, an idyllic village in the Austrian Alps, is rather known for its world cup ski races and its mundane lifestyle. It is not necessarily the place you would expect a superbly curated chamber concert series. However, Austrian pianist Erwin Kropfitsch, Artistic Director of the Steinway Salon at the Kitzbühel Country Club, was able – already for the second season – to engage a remarkable line-up of internationally acclaimed artists for concerts in the intimate, almost private setting of the Steinway Salon at the posh Kitzbühel Country Club.

The first concert of the “soloist series” in Kitzbühel/Tyrol was dedicated to British/Dutch violinist Daniel Rowland and Ukrainian pianist Natacha Kudritskaya. The charismatic duo opened their recital at the Steinway Salon with Claude Debussy’s Beau Soir. And indeed, it was the beginning of a very beautiful evening.

One of Rowland’s main teachers was Ivry Gitlis. Gitlis in turn was a student of the Romanian violinist-composer George Enescu. It therefore was particularly exciting to hear Enescu’s rarely performed Second Violin Sonata played by one of his artistic “grandchildren”. Enescu, a child prodigy in so many aspects, was barely 18 years old when he completed this sonata. A stunning work of intellectual and emotional maturity, Enescu considered it the first of his compositions showing his very own voice. Rowland and Kudritskaya demonstrated their unique musical partnership impressively, and their well-balanced interplay was not only beautiful to listen to but also exciting to watch. Natacha Kudritskaya, with her incredibly rich palette of pianistic colors perfectly matched Daniel Rowland’s expressive playing, supporting and enhancing it in a congenial way.

Enescu’s lesser known musical gem was followed by one of the staples of the violin literature: César Franck’sSonata in A Major. Innovative in its recurring themes, Franck’s Sonata is an intensely dramatic piece, with the violin seemingly wanting to settle for a more lyric mood but being relentlessly spurred to more intensity by the dramatic piano part. Both artists, although highly virtuosic, never fell for vain showmanship. Their playing always stayed refined and dedicated to content and expression.

The only downside – if there was any – was the difficult acoustics of the hall. At times, especially in forte outbreaks, Rowland’s beautiful Storioni violin wasn’t able to unfold its full potential.

After the Heifetz arrangement of “Bess you is my woman now”, Daniel Rowland and Natacha Kudritskaya ended this springtime “Beau Soir” in Kitzbühel with Gershwin’s “Summertime”. And if our own Summertime is as inspired, intense and moving as their performance, we can look forward to a great, memorable summer this year!

Un Très Beau Soir

Innsbruck
Kitzbühel Country Club (Steinway Salon)
04/11/2015 –
Claude Debussy: Beau Soir
George Enescu: Sonata No. 2 for violin and piano, op. 6
César Franck: Sonata in A Major for violin and piano
George Gershwin: Porgy and Bess: “Bess you is my woman now” & “Summertime” (arr. Jascha Heifetz)

Daniel Rowland (violin), Natacha Kudritskaya (piano)

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A powerful communication of the heart of the music

Chichester Observer, Chris Darwin

A masterly performance

The Westmorland Gazette, Clive Walkley

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Beautifully performed by Daniel Rowland and Natacha Kudritskaya…..Their musical approach is delicious…..

Music Frames, Mattie Poels

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Authenticity you might expect to hear from violinists such as Ivry Gitlis, Ida Haendel, Isaac Stern

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Violinist Daniel Rowland and pianist Natacha Kudritskaya begin their program of works by the Romanian composer and violinist George Enescu with a reading of his colorful Third Sonata, “dans le caractère populaire roumain,” that, in the first of its three movements, Moderato malinconico, misses few opportunities for communicating to listeners with bold gestures—in this case sharply defined, dynamically contrasted ones rendered exceptionally exotic by raw, smeary portamentos.

Two generations ago, I heard Isaac Stern make a similar impression in a live performance of the sonata; but in the auditorium the audience could watch as he lobbed pulverized musical phrases at one individual listener after another, making penetrating eye contact with each. I’d have been scared out of my wits if I’d been sitting in a front row.

Rowland and especially Kudritskaya fully indulge the mystery implied in the second movement’s title, Andante sostenuto e misterioso. Their command of timbral nuance hardly suggests makes their playing sound tightly controlled; at times they skirt close to the brink of abandon. In the finale, Allegro con brio, ma non troppo mosso, they once again make Enescu’s fragmentary gesticulations seem larger than life, especially in the tumultuous last page.

Throughout the sonata, in fact, they amply provide the kind of authenticity you might expect to hear from violinists such as Ivry Gitlis, Ida Haendel, Isaac Stern, or the composer himself—they’ve made of the work a force of nature in which they raise actual goosebumps. Yet Rowland never produces a quirkily unpleasant sound from the 1776 Lorenzo Storioni violin he plays—every timbral effect, no matter how lurid, seems to flow naturally from the expressive demands of the music itself.

The duo also finds the generative center of the Second Sonata’s first movement, which, though French in sensibility, contains haunting and daunting moments of overwhelming emotional power. Their reading of the slow movement disappears into a magical wisp of sound; the finale compounds stentorian statement with whimsy.

Impressions d’enfance, from 1940, makes very realistic references at times to the world of sound Enescu experienced as a young boy, weaving into its variegated sonic quilt a gypsy fiddler, an old beggar (whom Rowland presents in a surprisingly suave tonal garb), various bird calls, both free and caged (once again, Rowland never goes so far in realistic portrayal that he draws unpleasant sounds from his instrument—his means remain always musical ones), wind in the chimney, and, at the end, sunrise. Though these impressions may be surrealistically vivid, neither Enescu nor the duo ever make them sound maudlinly nostalgic.

With a blockbuster performance of the Third Sonata, a strong-minded one of the Second, and an almost Expresssionistic one of the Impressions, all in recorded sound that is sensitive to both tonal and dynamic nuance, these wide-ranging performances could leave listeners stunned by their power and insight. It’s risky to peer into the future, but this seems like a perfect item for the Want List. Urgently recommended.

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Magnificent chamber music of the highest level – 5 stars

Die Volkskrant

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Among the very finest performances of all three [Enescu] works that I have heard

American Record Guide, Joseph Magil
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Daniel Rowland has a powerful, glamorous tone, gleaming at the top and throaty and rugged down at the bottom, and Natacha Kudritskaya matches him every bar of the way for passion, fantasy and precision.

Gramophone Magazine, Richard Bratby

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5 Stars from BBC Music Magazine for Rowland Kudritskaya Duo's Enescu

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Extraordinary praise for Rowland Kudritskaya Duo CD, Les années folles, on Dutch Radio 4

The Rowland Kudritskaya Duo‘s CD Les années folles was recently reviewed on the Dutch radio station NPO Radio 4, which is the equivalent of the UK’s BBC Radio 3.

The following comments were made live on air on the prestigious Dutch Radio 4 programme Discotabel, on which an expert panel ‘blindly’ reviews new recordings:

High praise from key Dutch national daily, NRC Handelsblad

NRC Handelsblad, Mischa Spel

Daniel Rowland and his piano playing partner Natacha Kudritskaya stand together as a guarantee of quality

Opus klassiek, Siebe Riedstra

Violinist Daniel Rowland was born in London but moved as a child to the village Weerselo in Twente, where he lived for fifteen years. His father is the British composer and conductor David Rowland (1939-2007), who taught at the Twente Conservatory. Daniel studied in the Netherlands with Davina van Wely and in Brussels with Igor Oistrakh. He learned much from the legendary virtuoso and pedagogue Ivry Gitlis. Rowland has been the  first violinist of the Brodsky Quartet since 2007, and in 2005 began his own festival in Weerselo, the Stift Festival, where there is an emphasis on less familiar and contemporary chamber music.

An outstanding recording with sublime playing

Platomania
“[The Rowland – Kudritskaya duo] brings with Les Années folles a magnificent programme for violin and piano”
“an outstanding recording with sublime playing”
“excellent portrayal of the diversity of those turbulent years”

Strong feeling and total immersion; every note had meaning and direction

Smålandsposten, Kjell Nilsson

Imagine the combination of virtuosity and profound musicality. Last spring , we heard the duo Rowland / Kudritskaya in Växjö and these two  certainly have these abilities.

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Daniel Rowland and Natacha Kudritskaja – Hudiksvalls Tidning (27th February 2015)

Joy of playing – in a league of its own

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20/10/2020