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...a nostalgic tribute to the great light music violinist, Max Jaffa

Simon Blendis violin

Saoko Blendis piano

"Simon and Saoko Blendis 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."

The Times

"This disc is a triumph. At first glance it might seem like 'just' a collection of light-muisic trifles. Scratch the surface and you will find a fastidiously researched, lovingly compiled and brilliantly performed tribute to music of an earlier age. Simon Blendis and his wife Saoko Blendis play this far from easy music with real skill and flair"

MusicWeb International

Simon and Saoko Blendis
Photo by Sim Canetty-Clarke

Simon Blendis writes:


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 – you can see him holding the instrument in the photo on the album cover here. 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.


As the popularity of these online concerts increased, we realised that these pieces would make a wonderful CD, and we set about choosing which should be included. We wanted to create a balance, both between pieces that were well-known and those that were rarities or new discoveries, and between the different genres of music: slow ballads, dance numbers and those toe-tapping gypsy numbers. We also had to make a number of editorial decisions: many of the pieces had cuts written into the parts and some had re-written violin parts, and we had to choose when to be faithful to the printed scores and when to adopt Max Jaffa’s changes. 

In general, we’ve aimed at recreating the performing versions that Max Jaffa was known for, such as in pieces like ‘Hejre Kati’ and Phil Green’s ‘Romance’, but occasionally we have reverted to the printed edition when that piece was famous in its own right, such as with ‘Fascination’.

While this is no doubt a tribute to the wonderful legacy of Max Jaffa, we also felt it shouldn’t simply be an imitation of his own recordings. To that end we’ve not attempted to replicate his tempi or his interpretations, and we’ve included pieces that, although they were found in his boxes of music, it seems he never actually recorded (such as René Costy’s wonderful ‘Valsette’ and the wildly exciting ‘Jura Jura’). 


At the same time, we decided to omit some of his most popular pieces such as Massenet’s ‘Meditation’ or Elgar’s ‘Salut d’amour’, feeling that the world already has enough recordings of these repertoire staples. The result, we hope, is a window into the past, a contrasting collection of pieces that encapsulates the unique Max Jaffa flavour, performed on the very violin that he played, providing both a voyage of discovery and a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

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