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Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937)
Violin Concerto No. 1 Op. 35 (1916) [26:36]
Violin Concerto No. 2 Op. 61 (1933) [22:57]
Alena Baeva (violin)
Opole Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra/Bogusław Dawidow

rec. Opole Philharmonic Concert Hall, March 2007
DUX 0575 [49:32]
Experience Classicsonline


Dux are doing some splendid things of late. They also happen to be generous to young artists as this disc shows. Alena Baeva, a young violinist born in Kazakhstan in 1985, confidently essays both the Szymanowski concertos accompanied by the Opole Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra and Bogusław Dawidow.

The brace of concertos was slightly dryly recorded in Opole Philharmonic Concert Hall in March 2007, recording sessions made about six months after Ilya Kaler made his Naxos recordings in Warsaw review. Kaler’s conductor Antoni Wit brings a rather more sharply incisive profile to bear orchestrally than does Dawidow for Baeva. There are also, in truth, more colours in Kaler’s playing than are as yet evident in the younger Baeva’s arsenal. The apex of phrases is reached just that bit more effulgently with Kaler and Wit – and the sumptuousness of Naxos’s recording serves only to intensify the feeling that this Dux is a touch reserved in comparison. But that’s not to denigrate the new teaming which plays beautifully in the Andantino section of the First Concerto. We also find the Vivace scherzando is brightly launched and finely articulated as well. In the end though the greater ardour and sweep of the Naxos pairing wins the day.

The balancing of the tricky Second Concerto is also more telling in the Naxos. Kaler’s phrasing hits all the right lyric buttons, his intonation never wavering. The Naxos set up brings out a telling and more vivid sense of orchestral perspectives and once again the irresistible sweep and allure of the budget competition is preferable. That said try to hear Baeva’s throaty tone in this concerto.

There are no fillers.

This is now a crowded field with reissues of first class performances creating a real problem for purchasers. Classic performances at fast tempi seldom if ever now countenanced? Then it must be Uminska and/or David Oistrakh in No.1, albeit in imperfect sound. Wanda Wilkomirska? Kulka – Naxos 8553685? The rock solid pairing of Thomas Zehetmair and Simon Rattle - (EMI  5034292). Bargain price bracket but superb in every way? Then look no further than Ilya Kaler on Naxos 8557981. He would be my current all-things-taken-into-account recommendation.

Jonathan Woolf

 


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