Alexandra Soumm is a young Austrian violinist, born in 1989. She’s
won a number of prizes – the Eurovision Competition in 2004 included
– and studied with Boris Kuschnir. This is her first recording.
As such it’s both a serious entrant into
the marketplace and a ‘calling card’ disc designed to demonstrate
both her Romantic affiliations (Bruch) and her technical armoury
(Paganini). It’s effective on both counts.
Her Bruch doesn’t
open quite mysteriously enough, there’s not quite the ‘from
the romantic depths’ feel to it, but that’s as much a recording
matter as anything. Her playing is finely lyric, sensitively
phrased and there are no gauche gestures to draw the ear from
her well equalized scale and committed, generous music making.
I liked the way that Georg Mark made explicit the harmonic
importance of the horns’ passages in the first movement. Perhaps
Soumm is a little inclined to rush in her eagerness, an impulsiveness
that leads to my only real and substantive criticism which
is that sometimes in sustained lyric passages she changes
colour too much for the legato to be fully sustained. The
slow movement is warmly phrased and she evinces youthful maturity
in the finale where romantic impulsiveness is tempered by
a cool headed appreciation of structure. The impressive thing
about the performance is the deft way Soumm characterises
each movement whilst shaping the whole.
Her Paganini equally
manages the trick of balancing self-assertive passagework
virtuosity with the plentiful bel canto moments. She’s good
at these introspective moments and is technically assured
except for very occasional taxing moments when her tone sounds
a little pinched and doesn’t quite manage to sustain body
and vibrancy up high. Her bowing is assured through and her
ear for dynamic variance, especially in the central movement,
The recording was made in the Philharmonie
in Ludwigshafen and sounds attractive, albeit the engineers,
as noted, weren’t able to tame things at the start of the
Bruch. Let’s hope this heralds the first in a long line of
recordings from a clearly talented young musician.