By Greg Cahill | From the March-April 2022 issue of Strings magazine
What is a fadolin and why did violist and composer Lev Zhurbin, aka Ljova, decide to write repertoire for this eccentric stringed instrument? According to Ljova, the fadolin is a six-string bowed instrument that combines the range of the violin, the viola, and almost all of the cello by using two extra strings: the low F and C (the “fa” and “do” in the newly minted word “fadolin”). While the C-string exists on the viola and cello, the F string is unique to the fadolin. In recent years, Ljova has composed music exclusively for fadolin, rejecting the notion that the instrument is simply a violin with an extended range.
The 18-track Enter the Fadolín is the result. The album includes a series of intriguing caprices inspired by Bach’s suites for solo violin and cello. Other tracks range from a plaintive reading of Celtic harper and blind bard Turlough O’Carolan’s “O’Carolan’s Farewell to Music” and the contemplative original “Baltic Melismas” to a twist on the African American spiritual “This Little Light of Mine” and a variation of the Largo from Dvořák’s “New World Symphony.” The performances are alternately polished and rough, but always entertaining, depending on what the piece demands and what best demonstrates the instrument’s versatility and tonal range.