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Charles-Auguste de BÉRIOT (1802-1870)
Violin Concerto No. 2 in B minor, Op. 32 (1835) [31:56]
Violin Concerto No. 3 in E minor Op.44 (1842) [27:07]
Violin Concerto No. 5 in D major Op.55 (1848) [15:25]
Philippe Quint (violin)
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/Kirk Trevor
rec. Concert Hall of Slovak Radio, Bratislava, October 2006
NAXOS 8.570360 [70:56]
Experience Classicsonline

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 Quint. 

Once 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. 

The 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. 

The 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 orchestration. 

Philippe 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.

Jonathan Woolf 



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