For the Record, Op. 183: Ljova's 'Enter the Fadolín'; Bomsori's Chopin

January 14, 2022, 12:48 PM · Welcome to "For the Record,"'s weekly roundup of new releases of recordings by violinists, violists, cellists and other classical musicians. We hope it helps you keep track of your favorite artists, as well as find some new ones to add to your listening!

Lev Ljova Zhurbin
Lev 'Ljova' Zhurbin, playing his six-string fadolín.

Enter the Fadolín
Lev 'Ljova' Zhurbin, Fadolín

The fadolín is an instrument roughly the size of a violin, but with a crucial difference — where a violin would have only four strings, the fadolín adds two strings to the bottom (F and C), extending the fadolín’s range over an octave, almost to the bottom of the cello. Ljova's fadolín was built by Nathaniel Rowan, and the instrument was invented by luthier Eric Aceto. This album, conceived during the pandemic, includes 40 minutes of Ljova's original music for the instrument, as well as reimagined works by Bach, his contemporary Turlough O'Carolan, and Ljova's father, Alexander Zhurbin. Ljova is also offering the sheet music for all the pieces on the album - for $1 here. BELOW: Bach — Chromatic Fantasy arranged for fadolín by Ljova:

Chopin: Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2 in E-flat Major
Bomsori, violin
Rafal Blechacz, piano

This is a one-tune release, but it's a lovely and familiar piece: Bomsori performs Pablo de Sarasate's arrangement of Frederic Chopin's classic Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2 in E-flat Major, with pianist Rafal Blechacz.

If you have a new recording you would like us to consider for inclusion in our Thursday "For the Record" feature, please e-mail Editor Laurie Niles. Be sure to include the name of your album, a link to it and a short description of what it includes.

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January 15, 2022 at 11:26 AM · That fadolin is an interesting and original new instrument, but we should be clear that the sound we get here from this record by Ljova is not that nice... (the contrast with the sample from the new Bomsori album could not be larger). Is it because this instrument just sounds that way, cannot be improved to a nicer sound? Or is it...that Ljova is not really a player at the soloist level (fine with me, we can't all be) and the main purpose of the album is just to introduce the instrument?

January 15, 2022 at 05:07 PM · Hi Jean. Do we know if the video is representative of the recording space in which Liova made his album? If he did his video in a home studio that could be the problem with his sound. Also he is doing the HIP thing and playing without any vibrato and at least I am conditioned to expect at least some vibrato in the tone of a violin or viola, even with Bach. A quick Google search on Nathaniel Rowan suggests he is an experienced and accomplished luthier, but I can imagine it might be very hard to craft an instrument that can give balance and playability across such a wide spectrum otherwise six-string (not to mention five-string) violins would be a lot more popular among "serious" musicians. My sense of Ljova is that he knows how to play. His intonation and general facility seem very good to me. As a musician he is mostly known as a violist. Ljova does make a few mistakes in the video (muffing a few notes, etc.), but I believe that is because he made his video in "show mode" -- which involves a lot of gratuitous body movement that can really be harmful. Were I to play like that at my lesson, my teacher would stop me after about four bars and I would be very gently scolded.

January 15, 2022 at 05:14 PM · No doubt Bomsori is in a different realm than most of us mortals, and so is her instrument - she plays on a 1774 Guadagnini. She released a lovely single featuring a very popular Chopin nocturne, and so I certainly wanted everyone to hear that.

But I wanted to feature Ljova because his album represents a years-long, passionate exploration of this rather unique instrument and the music it can make, with really interesting pieces that Ljova wrote and arranged for it. If you go to his website, he explains the background behind each piece in detail, and he also offers all the arrangements that he made, almost for free. Will people build upon all this original work? It's probably his hope.

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