The First Violin Concerto Op.37 of Frederik
van Rossum is probably his best-known work for it was written as test
piece for the finals of the Queen Elizabeth Competition in 1980 (the
First Prize winner was the young Japanese violinist Yuzulo Horigome).
The piece made quite an impression for its global impact went far beyond
the limits of the commission. Again, all the van Rossum fingerprints
are there: taxing violin technique, for sure, but the stylistic and
expressive demands put on the player must not be ignored either. The
music is in turn warmly lyrical (sometimes recalling Britten) and rhythmically
alert, but always overtly expressive.
One of the finalists of the 1980 Q.E.C. was Paul Zazofsky
who later put van Rossumís concerto in his repertoire (a fairly rare
instance in the Q.E.C.ís long history). Later still, Zazofsky asked
van Rossum to write another concerto for him. This materialized in 1990
when van Rossum completed the Second Violin Concerto Op.45.
This is a quite substantial work and a much more ambitious piece than
its predecessor. It is cast in two sizeable movements: Prologue and
Incantations lyriques, which says much as to the overall mood of the
piece that again is a superb example of van Rossumís music making. The
music again blends a huge range of techniques into a musically varied
but very coherent whole of great communicative power.
The earlier Epitaphe Op.25 (1972) was
written for Lola Bobesco and her Ensemble Eugène Ysaye. This
fairly short work is a beautifully moving elegy in memory of the composerís
grandfather, the painter Léon Spilliaert. The music certainly
looks back at Bartok whose music has been a powerful influence on van
Rossum. Lola Bobesco and her ensemble recorded the piece many years
ago (ALPHA 3075 F-1 nla) but the present recording is certainly the
one to have.
Excellent, dedicated performances warmly recorded in
the superb acoustics of the concert hall of the Liège Conservatory.
This release is as welcome as it is unreservedly recommended.