I know it’s the
significant Shostakovich anniversary this year but it is a
little strange, to say the least, when a company releases
two recordings of his violin concerto no.1, one hard on the
heels of the other and then announces it is ceasing record
production altogether! The two discs in question, it
is true, are not exactly the same since Daniel Hope’s had
both Shostakovich violin concertos whilst Josefowicz’s has
the first and the violin sonata.
When I reviewed
the Hope disc a couple of months ago I nominated it for Disc
of the Month, I was so impressed (see review).
I was impressed with this performance too though Josefowicz
does not quite match the electrifying nature of Hope’s playing
but of course it’s all a matter of taste as I’ve read that
others think differently. Josefowicz certainly produces a
sweet tone, particularly in the opening movement with the
CBSO accompanying her with the necessary degree of delicate
phrasing in this gentle beginning to one of the great violin
concertos of the 20th century. Josefowicz is an
extremely intelligent interpreter who has stated that she
would never perform any work without having lived with it
for at least a year. This shows, as does her undoubted admiration
for the work. Her playing in the lyrical third movement,
for example, is quite beautiful and her cadenza is very persuasive.
The final movement is brought off with panache though in a
less dynamic way than in Hope’s recording.
The Violin Sonata,
a late work from 1969, is Shostakovich’s only sonata for violin
and piano and one of the major chamber works of his final
years. Like much of his writing in this period the music
is sparse but minutely calculated and supremely constructed.
In this work both players rise to the occasion and I’ve never
heard it better performed; it is the finer offering of the
two works on this disc.
This is a fine
coupling and no-one should hesitate in buying it. If both
concertos are required then, for me at least, Daniel Hope’s
disc is the obvious choice.
(USA sales only)