Saturday, January 28, 2012

Awards 2011 - Concerto

Bruch: Violin concerto no.1; Piano quintet; Romance
Vadim Gluzman with chamber musicians; Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra/Andrew Litton

Whoa - sounds like Christopher Fifield of MusicWeb is pulling rank on us here: "An understandable reaction to yet another performance of Bruch's first violin concerto would surely have elicited much eye-rolling and a lot of invective from the composer, who always exhorted violinists to play one of the other eight concerted works for the instrument. As his biographer I can guarantee that". Yikes! Is there any hope for Vadim Gluzman? Yes there is: "Yet I would be surprised if he did not like what he hears here. Vadim Gluzman, with a finely attentive accompanist in Andrew Litton and his responsive Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, plays it superbly - it's quite the finest performance I have ever heard, including Kreisler's famous 1925 recording". And if you're wondering whether a disc that is 40% chamber music is entitled to be considered as a Concerto disc, rest assured that in the quintet, as Fifield puts it, "the first violin is the virtuoso while its four colleagues (including a second viola) take on a comparatively subsidiary role".

Runners up:
Hindemith: Works for viola and orchestra
Lawrence Power; BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/David Atherton

CPE Bach: Harpsichord concertos
Andreas Staier; Freiburger Barockorchester/Petra Müllejans
Harmonia Mundi

Martinů, Hindemith, Honegger: Cello concertos
Johannes Moser;
Deutsche Radio Philharmonie/Christoph Poppen

Sarasate: Music for violin and orchestra, volume 3
Tianwa Yang; Orquesta Sinfónica de Navarra/Ernest Martínez Izquierdo

Why is an album of harpsichord concertos not in the Baroque section, you may well ask. The answer is simply that they were written in the early 1770s, which I don't think we can reasonably call the Baroque period. An interesting fact about this category is that the scores from the foreign-language sources made a big impact - enthusiasm from France and Spain helped Gluzman's album overcome ARG's negative review. Actually it's the only one of the 16 award winners that a reviewer truly disliked. But it triumphed: someone should make a movie about it.

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