Love Is Like A Violin: Salon Treasures from the Max Jaffa Library



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Max Jaffa (1911-1991) was the pre-eminent light music violinist of his generation, a universally popular figure with a career spanning seventy years, famous as leader of the Palm Court Orchestra and of his trio, and a household favourite through his regular radio broadcasts. Since 2000 I have been playing on a wonderful Peter Guarnerius violin that previously belonged to him. About three years ago I was offered his sheet music library by his family (whom I’d got to know well in the intervening years), reuniting it with the violin, and during the first Coronavirus lockdown in 2020 my wife, Saoko, and I combed through the violin and piano pieces, discovering and performing in online concerts a huge number of gorgeous salon pieces, some well-known but many forgotten or undiscovered. [Simon Blendis]


"The success of an enterprise such as this depends on the ability of players trained in the mainstream classical tradition to recreate the relaxed, nonchalant, slightly camp atmosphere of Max Jaffa’s originals as naturally as possible. Fortunately, Simon Blendis has nailed the Jaffa style – the rapid portamento inflections, the narrow vibrato, the sweet tone, the elastic phrasing that seems to bend time itself and the intimate tonal shadings which give the impression he is playing only for you." Julian Haylock, [read complete review]

"This is a tremendous disc. At first glance it might appear to be a collection of ‘light’ salon pieces for violin and piano, but in fact this represents a major labour of love by the performers Simon Blendis on violin and his wife Saoko Blendis on piano. Together they shine a light on a corner of the repertoire – and indeed a facet of music-making – that has all but been forgotten and lost. Therein lies the true value of this disc; no-one pretends that this is great or important music but it is beautifully crafted, instantly appealing and a delight to listen to. More over it is not easy to play as well as it is here. This is not just a question of technical address but also understanding the genre and the requisite style. Fortunately in the players here there is complete and stylish empathy; absolute technical security allied to a delightfully apt slightly old-fashioned style of playing that fits these pieces like a glove... This truly impressive disc is an excellent celebration of a style of music and its performers who provided audiences and listeners alike with hours of pleasure... A stylish and skilful celebration of a violinist and the music he played..." Nick Barnard, [see complete review]

"With a finely judged recording and Simon Blendis’ own booklet notes, this is a charming and packed recital that offers a rich variety of lighter pleasures in arrangements that have been subjected to some necessary editorial decision-making. The two performers evoke the aura of past times effectively not through imitation or assumed period techniques – no glutinous Palm Court slides here, not that Jaffa perpetuated those – but rather through a serious, respectful but humorous and witty look at Jaffa’s repertoire." Jonathan Woolf,  [see complete review]

“Love is Like a Violin, where Simon and Saoko Blendis (violin and piano) offer a winning selection of his staple repertoire, equipped with Jaffa’s own violin and music library. Juicy gypsy showpieces, tender songs by Stephen Foster, titbits you recognise but can’t name: they’re all here, delivered with plenty of panache and honest feeling by two skilful musicians who like Jaffa himself fully demonstrate the value of taking light music seriously.” Francesco Piemontesi, The Times [see complete review]



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