This is Volume 4 in
Hyperionís Romantic Violin Concerto
line a series proceeding at a much more
measured pace than their Romantic Piano
Concerto sequence. I wonder why. Is
it difficult to find capable violinists
to tackle rare concertos? Is it more
expensive to record them? Who knows?
In any event I hope that Hyperion will
eventually get to the concertos by Haydn
Wood, de Boeck, Atterburg, Arthur Benjamin,
Haakon Børresen, Dohnanyi, Ernst
Herman Meyer, Peterson-Berger, Leroy
Robertson, Othmar Schoeck, Karl Weigl,
Leo Sowerby and Grace Williams; some
of these are more romantic than others.
music of Karłowicz is doing rather
well at present and it deserves to.
His Violin Concerto is a work
combining the dramatic virtuosity and
stormy mien of the Tchaikovsky Concerto
with the sweetly-intoned romance of
the Bruch and Glazunov. Its melodies
are memorable; superior for example
to anything in the Saint-Saëns
concertos if not to Caprice Andalou,
Havanaise and Introduction
and Rondo Capriccioso.
Grandeur is very much in the air at
the start of the Karłowicz with
a gesture similar to the majestic ceremonial
fanfare of the Tchaikovsky Second Piano
The Hyperion version
is taken quite quickly and it is probably
the Karłowiczís best recording,
certainly its freshest sounding. The
concerto is given a winged performance
at 27 minutes, outpacing the Polish
competition without gabble or any sense
of breathless compression. Amongst
the other versions there is little to
choose. There is a Polskie Nagrania
Muza CD version where the brilliant
soloist is Wanda Wiłkomirska, recorded
in 1963 with the Warsaw Philharmonic
Orchestra and Witold Rowicki. I also
have Kulka's 1979 recording where
the conductor was Rowicki again. That
is on a long-gone AAD Olympia CD (OCD304).
It still sounds rather good if thinner
sounding when compared with the opulence
to be had on the very
recent CD Accord version. I
also have a CDR of CDM LDC 278 1088
in which Kaja Danczowska plays the work
with the Polish Radio Orchestra, Cracow.
The Danczowska is certainly impressive
but Little is given a clearer and more
immediate sound that reaches out needily
towards the listener. Little is not
merely capable but brilliant. She projects
a fleshily splendid tone and has technical
flair to spare. This all adds up to
a feel-good performance.
Little's first movement
is the quickest version overall at 12.26.
The 1979 Kulka times at 31.10 for the
whole work and the 1963 Wiłkomirska
at 30.31 although Wiłkomirska takes
about the same time as Little in the
final vivace. Wiłkomirska emphasises
every contour and throatily relishes
the textures. Her orchestra is placed
a little in the background and of course
the sound is by no means as refined
and pleasing as the Hyperion although
it is gripping in a not wholly naturalistic
The Moszkowski Ballade
is a sweet confection, nostalgic and
free-winging with more poetic repose
than fiery action. Martin Eastick in
his notes hits the nail on the head
when he refers to the music as affable;
that it certainly is. It also sports
some Elgarian self-satisfaction (tr.4
Now let's take the
concerto, dedicated to Emile Sauret
who premiered the work in Berlin in
1883. This was once available in a different
performance on Koch International. Moszkowski
does not aim for high passions, eternal
verities and tragic extremes. The middle
movement has the sweet contentment of
Bruch and the serenity of Beethoven
and Brahms. There are even presentiments
of the Elgar concerto. The finale is
a devil's galop of a romp - perpetuum
mobile in character. It coruscates at
hell-for-leather pace and must present
major technical challenges. These are
tossed aside with bravado. Tasmin Little
throws down the gauntlet to anyone contemplating
a competing version.
This is not the first
Moszkowski entry in Hyperionís Romantic
Concertos series. Early on they recorded
the Piano Concerto in E major, Op. 59
with Paderewskiís Piano Concerto in
A minor, Op. 17. Piers Lane (piano);
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Jerzy
Maksymiuk. Hyperion CDA66452 review.
This disc is the most
impressive instalment in the Hyperion
romantic violin concerto series; superb
and most beautifully recorded and played.
It is cause for wonder that Tasmin Little
has been prepared to invest precious
time and dedication in recording these
cinderellas of the repertoire. I hope
she realises that the listening public
The notes are by the
redoubtable Martin Eastick and are well
up to Hyperionís usual; high standards.
By now I must have
played this disc at least ten times
for the sheer pleasure of the experience.
Do give these two 'unknowns' a try.
HYPERIONís Romantic Violin Concerto
Vol 1. Saint-Saëns Concertos 1-3
- Graffin CDA67074
Vol 2. Stanford: Concerto; Suite; Marwood.
Vol 3. Hubay Concertos 3-4, Variations.
Hagai Shaham CDA67367