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John CORIGLIANO (b.
1938) The Red Violin Concerto (1997-2002) [37:22]
Sonata for Violin and Piano (1962-63) [22:43]
Joshua Bell (violin)
Jeremy Denk (piano)
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra/Marin Alsop
rec. live, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Baltimore, June 2006 (concerto), Kupfenberg
Center for the Performing Arts, Queens, New York, June 2007 SONY 82876 880602 [62:22]
donít particularly adore Joshua Bellís sweet, emotionally equivocal
violin playing, nor was I entirely enamored of John Coriglianoís ďRed
ViolinĒ Concerto when I attended
the concert at which this performance was
taped. But even with all caveats, this recording is well worth
anyoneís ear who isnít afraid of tonal contemporary music.
Starting over a gentle
solo violin section quickly supported by flittering strings, occasionally
soft woodwinds, the concerto allows the violinist to meander about
before he is interrupted by martial interjections, orchestral
whip-lash, and cacophonous rumbles. Out of the ruins of this rises
the movement anew, led by a solitary, optimistic clarinet. But
at the live performance, there were moments when Bell disappeared
behind the orchestra that suggested balance problems, rather than
Sure enough the mixing
table - or takes from the two subsequent performances in June
2006 - fixed that and the four movement concerto comes across
as much improved as a result.
The nervous second
movement (Pianissimo Scherzo) with enthusiastically gentle
percussion participation, sounds like music that desperately wished
to bark but was kept on too short a leash. The Andante Flautando is
broad and rich to which the BSO responds with a very pleasing,
sonorous sound. It might be best described as giving the impression
of several Zbigniew Preisner scores being strung together, but
then Preisner wrote some really good film music. Here the film
music origins of the concerto become obvious.
I wonít say that I
have changed my mind about the Philip Glass, John Adams, or Daniel
Brewbaker violin concertos doing more for me, but Iím very
glad to have Coriglianoís work now for repeat listening - and
well balanced from which it benefits handsomely.
Also included is the
Sonata for Violin and Piano which I already liked in performances
of Elmar Oliveira
with Robert Koenig (Artek AR00352) and Maria Bachmann
with Jon Klibonoff (BMG/RCA 64298), but am equally to happy
to hear from Bell and Jeremy Denk (who has his own blog).
Jens F. Laurson
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