Daniel Lozakovich’s rich, romantic style of playing often sees him likened to the iconic violinists of the 20th century. On Spirits, his latest Deutsche Grammophon recording, he celebrates some of his forebears in the hope of passing on their style and repertoire to younger generations. “I’ve chosen a selection of very accessible miniatures, which I associate with different violinists,” he explains. “All these musicians had such strong, soulful spirits that it’s impossible to forget their sound.” Partnered by pianist Stanislav Soloviev, Lozakovich performs favourite encores by Elgar, Debussy, Falla, Gluck, Brahms and Kreisler. Spirits will be released digitally on 14 April 2023.
The album opens with Elgar’s Salut d’amour, Lozakovich’s tribute to the only one of the violinists honoured here that he knew personally – Ivry Gitlis, who died in 2020. “This piece represents him because it’s about love, and living in the moment, and he was a free spirit who did everything with so much love.” The same composer’s sparkling La Capricieuse is one of just eight pieces recorded by Josef Hassid, who died tragically young. “It was Hassid’s one and only recording that inspired me to record this album,” says Lozakovich. “He had such intelligence, technique, sound and soul.”
Debussy’s peaceful Clair de lune began life as a solo piano piece but in Lozakovich’s hands acquires new colours. He associates this piece with David Oistrakh – “his silky sound, warm tone and relaxed playing style”. By contrast, the “passion and intensity” of Falla’s Danse espagnole (arranged by Kreisler from the ballet La vida breve) makes him think of French violinist Christian Ferras: “he seemed to give his whole life to every performance”.
Another Kreisler arrangement, Gluck’s yearning Mélodie (a version of the “Dance of the Blessed Spirits” from the opera Orfeo ed Euridice), is linked in Lozakovich’s mind to the man he considers to have been “the very greatest violinist”: Jascha Heifetz. “He made me understand what it means to embody the soul of the violin and what an incomparable spirit he had as a violinist.”
This is followed by two of Brahms’s Hungarian Dances, adapted for violin and piano. The style required for these lively, celebratory pieces is inspired by the playing of Leonid Kogan – “you need his power, intensity and richness of sound to bring them to life”.
Spirits ends with a homage to Fritz Kreisler in the shape of the violinist-composer’s own Liebesleid. “He was the godfather of all violinists. His contribution to this instrument is something all violinists have to explore during their career,” says Lozakovich. “He played with such elegance and charm, and had the most seductive sound, one you could listen to for ever.”
Spirits was recorded at the Gehry-designed Louis Vuitton Foundation museum and cultural centre in Paris. Lozakovich played the Stradivarius “Le Reynier” violin of 1727, loaned to him by the Foundation. “While playing in this venue, you can see both water and the moon, and you feel their inspiration. Both are an influence on most of these pieces. That’s why this is one of the most inspirational places to perform,” he says. “I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to play this instrument,” adds Lozakovich. “It’s as if it’s not from this world. You feel something in your soul and it allows you to express it. It understands you.”