CD Reviews
(English originals/translations)

Stacks Image 126
Released in December 2006 :

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(Awarded 5 Diapasons from the review Diapason – France)
Sonatas for violin and piano by Gustave Samazeuilh, Guy Ropartz (n° 1), César Franck, Albéric Magnard (op. 13), Louis Vierne (op. 23), Sylvio Lazzari (op. 24), Guillaume Lekeu and Joseph Jongen (op. 27). Andrew Hardy (violin), Uriel Tsachor (piano). Musique en Wallonie (MEW0528-0531), distr. Codaex (4 CD : 46,02 G). 0 2005. TT : 4 h 39'. TECHNIQUE:6,5/10 DDD (...history of compositions…). The duo Andrew Hardy and Uriel Tsachor, whom we have already heard in a remarkable integral of the Brahms Sonatas (cf. N° 467), offer us a vision, of these 8 works, of rare coherence, at the same time strong, sensitive, and passionate. Their complicity, and the generosity of their eloquence, captivates from beginning to end. The two interpreters dominate their subject with as much majesty as imagination, using luminous timbres and a lyricism of supreme elegance. A courageous realization, in all points exemplary. Diapason - France, Jean-Michel Molkhou (August 2006) (History of compositions…). If this CD set is a beautiful success, the merit lies naturally on the two interpreters whose communion is exemplary. Andrew Hardy, violinist with a pure style, and sonority of magnificent lucidity, finds in Uriel Tsachor a pianist with great sensitivity and perfect musicality. Of these artists, the reverse can equally be said. Classica-Répertoire, Xavier Rey, July – August 2006 (History of compositions…). Andrew Hardy and Uriel Tsachor are gifted. Their interpretations are animated and vehement. United around a common musical idea, throughout each work they find equilibrium, depth of sound, and expressivity. We especially appreciate the freshness of the Sonatas by Albéric Magnard and Guillaume Lekeu. Le Monde de la musique, Jérémie Szpirglas– July-August 2006

Released in December 1999 (Reissued in 2005):


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(Awarded 5 Diapasons from the review Diapason – France):
Johannes Brahms, The Complete (5) Sonatas for Violin & Piano: Opps. 78, 100, 108 and 120 nos. 1 et 2. Scherzo «F.A.E. ». (CALLIOPE-CAL 9283.4), distributed by: Harmonia Mundi (2 CD: 220 F). TT. 1 h 58'43»:

“Very beautiful colors rendered from the two instruments… Andrew Hardy plays a violin made by Guadagnini in 1793, and this, in part, explains the quality of sonority; very warm, never puffed up, ample to just the degree necessary not to loose sight of the spirit of chamber music in the very symphonic finale of the Sonata, Op. 108, but also very moving in the low registers, which is of paramount importance in the Sonatas, Op. 120. But that is not all. One of the difficulties, particularly in the Sonatas, Op. 78 and Op. 100, is the length and complexity of the development of certain parts, notably the initial sections. One must construct a discourse that traverses the meandering harmonies without releasing the tension, all the while managing to pause and dream. Here, the intelligence of the violinist and the pianist’s collaboration is preeminent. With these two artists, Calliope has made a fine discovery".
Répertoire – France, Jacques Bonnaure (December 1999) “…The interpretation given by Hardy and Tsachor is strongly honest and their understanding is perfect… This set of recordings will certainly not disappoint Brahms lovers.” Classica - France Xavier Rey (February 2000) “…A sober, refined, sensual approach. Energy deployed with vigour underlines the surges of tenderness and sweet melancholy (1st movement of Op. 120, No. 1). The dynamic as well as the inspiration, side by side, are mastered, permitting, with ‘Brahmsian’ subtlety, to melt into a natural poetry and generosity. The connivance and complicity between the two partners shines forth clearly, in full bloom, and in a fusion of timbres.” Crescendo – Belgium, O.E. (February 2000) “The transparency and definition are excellent… The repeated publication of the 5 Complete Sonatas, and no longer only 3 Sonatas, seems to well indicate that violinists have, henceforth, decided to augment their repertoire with the two Sonatas, Opus 120, originally conceived by Brahms for Clarinet, and later transcribed for Viola. The transcription for Violin, by the composer himself, is irrefutably marked with authenticity and despite their melancholy character, which naturally lends itself to the more somber and veiled timbres, it must be recognized that they sound magnificent on the Violin... The American violinist, Andrew Hardy, whom we have already heard, notably in the Prokofiev and Janáček Sonatas (Diapason no. 38S), and in the original choice of Russian Violin Concertos (Diapason no. 424), confirms here his remarkable qualities in chamber music playing. Generous sonorities, suppleness in phrasing, subtle complicity with his partner, and plenitude of line, give to his playing a genuine sovereignty. It is moreover, particularly in the two Sonatas, Op. 120, that their vision is the most interiorly troubling, and perhaps the most imaginative. In the E-flat Major Sonata [Op. 120, No. 1] the two interpreters establish an energy and density that is uncommon, whilst, in turns, they give to the F minor Sonata a touching, meditative tenderness and a comforting exhilaration. Their reading of the three “original” Violin Sonatas, likewise, abides in a subtle equilibrium between passion, torment and reserve. The melody is majestically directed, even if here and there it gives way to some grandiloquence (Opus 100, Adagio op. 108); the dialogue between the instruments is balanced, both in power and direction; neither of the two partners ever taking the ascendancy any longer than is suggested by the score. The sonorities produced by the violinist are in full bloom, his vibrato ample and majestic, while the pianist responds with a dynamic eloquence and depth, in perfect harmony. The Scherzo “F.A.E.”, tumultuous as desired, is, as its title suggests [“Frei aber einsam” - “Free but alone”] one of the most intoxicating moments of this collection, evidence of the spiritual maturity that this duo will henceforth reach. Diapason - France, Jean-Michel Molkhou (March, 2000)

"A most sympathetic performance."

The Strad (UK)

Released in 1995:


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Russian Violin Concertos by Rakov, Kabalevsky, Shebalin, Symphony Orchestra of Russia, Veronica Dudarova, (conductor) (OLYMPIA - OCD 573): “The young American violinist, Andrew Hardy, develops with great ease this repertoire rarely frequented, wherein he conveys some imaginative interpretations. A lively bow arm, a fluid and engaged expression, so, a beautiful instrumental mastery gives his playing fantasy, spontaneity and liberty. His discourse is never ponderous, but on the contrary, airy and dynamic.” Diapason - France (March 1996)

Russian Violin Concertos:


(5 Stars out of 5 from “A terrific recording of some interesting music” “Andrew Hardy's fiery skills on the violin deserve more recognition than they have commonly received in the United States. His playing of the three Russian concerti listed on the album cover is excellent. His emotional style of playing seems particularly well suited to Russian music -- which seems strange, considering that the notes indicate that he is a native of Baltimore, Md., here in the U.S. The State of Russia Symphony Orchestra does a creditable job accompanying him. I cannot determine, from this one recording, if they are a great orchestra; however, they remain appropriately in the background, allowing Hardy to soar in the difficult soloistic sections. The recording quality is also excellent. I would have to say that Hardy's playing is superior to the music that is recorded here, although the Rakov has its moments, especially in the last movement. It would be interesting to hear a recording of this violinist performing some better known works, such as the Brahms or Beethoven concerto, although I realize that economically this may not be feasible, since there are already so many recordings of those works in existence. I would recommend this recording to anyone interested in learning about some unusual but interesting music for the violin and orchestra. People interested in important composers of the Soviet era will find this recording rewarding. Finally, and most importantly, the recording is a must for anyone who wishes to experience some of the most beautiful and unusually passionate violin playing in the history of recorded music.”, Brian M Dempsey - Michigan, U.S.A. (November 22, 1999)

Russian Violin Concertos:
(Recently reissued in 2009): REGIS RECORDS, Ltd., UK. (RRC1310):

Here are three tunefully grateful Russian violin concertos from the 1940s.
The Rakov’s undulating topography is sweetly intoned by Hardy who plays a Cremona Guadagnini of 1793. It’s a romantic work steeping lightly between the worlds of Glazunov’s lissom concerto and something very close to Hollywood. There’s a lush and lissom autumnal Andante after the 14 minute Allegro first movement. This is followed by a flashing blade of a finale which is pointedly thrust forward, turned, swung and parried by Hardy, Dudarova and her orchestra. There’s a touch of Prokofuiev’s First Violin Concerto about this engaging movement.
Rakov was a pupil of Gliere. He became a leading member of the Moscow Conservatoire staff and taught Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Elena Firsova, Boris Tchaikovsky and Karen Khachaturian (the nephew of Aram). His works include three symphonies, two piano concertos and two violin concertos.
We are on more familiar soil with the Kabalevsky concerto which is in fact his only one for violin. It is one of a trilogy of concertos for Soviet Youth. The others are Cello Concerto No. 1 (1949) and the Third Piano Concerto (1953) which was premiered by the 14 year old Vladimir Ashkenazy. It is positive, fluent, exciting and registers its emotional message without evasion. Like the Rakov it has a dreamy central movement before diving into a playful Vivace giocoso with sparkling Cossack rhythms and considerable unsubtle brilliance.
Vissarion Shebalin was a pupil of Miaskovsky and became director of the Moscow Conservatory (1942-1948). His Violin Concerto is a more nuanced work than the other two. It deals in half-lights, tragedy, protest, brutality and fury. No wonder he attracted official criticism. He was far from being an ecstatic but he was evidently a free-thinker whose freed thoughts turned to gloom and found satisfaction in the expression of the ascent into sunlight. Towards the end of the first movement the music takes on a scorching redolence of Shostakovich. The middle movement is no dreamy pre-echo of the Rakov or Kabalevsky. Shebalin calls up a meditation on beauty in some lightless kingdom. After two such movements the composer turns a more optimistic page for the Rondo finale with what you might think of as a playful synthesis of the Glazunov and the Miaskovsky concertos.
Three fascinating works. The Rakov and Kabalevsky have more in common with each other than with the Shebalin. All of these works are ones you should really get to know if you enjoy the more famous concertos by Prokofiev and Miaskovsky. None of them are in the Shostakovich league though the Shebalin sometimes comes closest but it’s not that close.
The recording has an ideal balance of detail and impact from both orchestra and soloist.
Good liner notes by Per Skans.
You might be interested in comparing this with another Soviet Violin Concerto collection on the new deleted Russian Revelation label.
Let’s have more reissues like this please Regis. Meantime snap up this delectably lyrical and completely unhackneyed collection and wonder whether Hardy might return to record other rare Soviet concertos of the period 1930-60.

Rob Barnett

Russian Violin Concertos:
"The recording has an ideal balance of detail and impact from both orchestra and soloist."
(MusicWeb May 2009)

Released in 1993:


Max Reger (N° 9 in C minor, Op. 139) and Richard Strauss (E Flat, Op. 18)
(OLYMPIA - OCD 355): « Max Reger, on the road to rehabilitation.” Le Vif - Express, Belgium, Didier Chatelle (December, 1993) « Our two artists have removed themselves from the famous Heifetz recordings (of Strauss Sonata) in two ways. Firstly, by the just representation of the two parts, and secondly by the intimate and delicately nostalgic mood imported as if these pages were renewed again by the composer as a mature man.” CD Classica - Italy (November 1994)
Released in 1992:


Clara and Robert Schumann - Complete Original Works for Violin and Piano (OLYMPIA- OCD 356): “...Hardy & Tsachor give us a glimpse of the inner workings of Schumann’s crumbling psyche, and as my pulse quickens I find it impossible to listen objectively. This cathartic reading gives the impression of the ethereal and tormented music that Schumann heard as he was losing his mind...” American Record Guide - U.S.A. (July/August 1993) “Among Andrew Hardy’s most indisputable qualities, engagement and sensitivity figure most assuredly in mind. Always, this violinist ‘recounts’, and his conviction is total.” La Cité - Belgium, M.D. - M. (January 1994)
Released in 1991:


Sergei Prokofiev and Leoš Janáček - Complete Sonatas for Violin & Piano
(OLYMPIA, London, OCD355):
“Temperament and technique in service of the music, rather than vice versa, plus a healthy respect for the demands of textural clarity.... A performance that can hold its own beside the finest currently available.” Gramophone – U.K., D.J.F. (March 1992) “…Here we discover a creamy smooth sonority and refined expression. A secure intonation, a warm vibrato, an agile and precise bow arm, but above all a remarkable clarity of articulation and an agreeable suppleness of phrasing are the principle elements of his playing.” Diapason – France, J.-M. M. (septembre 1992)
Released in 1990:


Franz Schubert - Duos: Sonata, Rondo, Fantasie (TALENT, Antwerp, DOM 2910 28): ”Andrew Hardy supply draws his bow with lyricism and grace… An abundance of fresh air and a message of loyalty and tenderness permeate these three Opus’s that contain more than the Lion’s share of recreational virtuosity.” Le Soir, Belgium, F.L. (February 1991)