This is the second in the Naxos
survey of the violin concertos of de Bériot. The first (see review)
was recorded as far back as 1986 in which Takako Nishizaki
and the RTBF Symphony Orchestra, Brussels under Alfred Walter
performed Concertos 1, 8 and 9. This latest volume was taped a
full twenty years later in rather differing circumstances - the
Concert Hall of Slovak Radio, Bratislava with the local orchestra
and their frequent guest conductor Kirk Trevor accompanying Philippe
again you write off de Bériot at your peril. All three works
marry Paganinian impulses with bel canto lyricism and are adeptly
orchestrated. The B minor begins in extrovert fashion with some
bumptiously confident percussion to the fore. The soloist’s
elegant figuration also has time to take in refined songfulness
– fine dolce and raptly romanticized dynamic variance before
the first movement ends in a characteristic flurry of octaves.
One would expect the central movement to be lyric and warm and
it is – albeit less distinctive than the opening. The finale
is sparkling but not quite the Rondo russe one was expecting
from the movement’s indication; more cosmopolitan than Russian.
E minor Concerto Op.44 followed seven years later, being completed
in 1842. It opens in Sturm and Drang high dudgeon but the tempests
are soon dissipated and virtuosity filters into the concerto’s
mechanics – along with plenty of legato lyricism for the soloist.
I was greatly taken by the Adagio’s pizzicati accompaniment
to the alternately lyric and assertive solo themes – but even
more so by the heart-stoppingly lovely reprise of the theme.
The cocky Rondo finale is not untypical of the composer and
the barrage of fireworks – the arabesques, position changes
– are augmented by the suave leads offered by the soloist. If
you’ve not encountered one of de Bériot’s concertos I’d go for
this one first.
Fifth Concerto in D major is by some way the most compact of
the three presented here. But in a quarter of an hour a lot
gets packed in. This time he opens grandly, presidentially –
the confidence not quite smug but not so far off. But we are
still in Paganini’s orbit and the solo violin offers a rather
perkier, jauntier viewpoint than the more stringent and draconian
statements of the orchestra. It makes for fruitful contrast
and tension not least when the solo violin has been vested with
a degree of tongue-in-cheek so very much at odds with the surrounding
Quint leads a very merry dance here. He plays with real control
and command – not a heavy tone but flexible, and capable of
considerable finesse in the many lyric episodes he has to integrate
into the fabric of the scores. The Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
usually play very well for Kirk Trevor and they do so again
and they’ve been warmly recorded in their home hall. If you
have a penchant for fireworks and songful concertos of the Paganinian
era then these will come as welcome visitors to your deck.