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Max BRUCH (1838-1920)
Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26 (1864-68) [24:43]
Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1840)
Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major, Op.6 (c.1817-1818) [37:00]
Alexandra Soumm (violin)
Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/Georg Mark
rec. Ludwigshafen, Philharmonie, October 2007  
CLAVES 502808 [61:43]


Experience Classicsonline

Alexandra Soumm is a young Austrian violinist, born in 1989. She’s won a number of prizes – the Eurovision Competition in 2004 included – and studied with Boris Kuschnir. This is her first recording.

As such it’s both a serious entrant into the marketplace and a ‘calling card’ disc designed to demonstrate both her Romantic affiliations (Bruch) and her technical armoury (Paganini). It’s effective on both counts.

Her Bruch doesn’t open quite mysteriously enough, there’s not quite the ‘from the romantic depths’ feel to it, but that’s as much a recording matter as anything. Her playing is finely lyric, sensitively phrased and there are no gauche gestures to draw the ear from her well equalized scale and committed, generous music making. I liked the way that Georg Mark made explicit the harmonic importance of the horns’ passages in the first movement. Perhaps Soumm is a little inclined to rush in her eagerness, an impulsiveness that leads to my only real and substantive criticism which is that sometimes in sustained lyric passages she changes colour too much for the legato to be fully sustained. The slow movement is warmly phrased and she evinces youthful maturity in the finale where romantic impulsiveness is tempered by a cool headed appreciation of structure. The impressive thing about the performance is the deft way Soumm characterises each movement whilst shaping the whole.

Her Paganini equally manages the trick of balancing self-assertive passagework virtuosity with the plentiful bel canto moments. She’s good at these introspective moments and is technically assured except for very occasional taxing moments when her tone sounds a little pinched and doesn’t quite manage to sustain body and vibrancy up high. Her bowing is assured through and her ear for dynamic variance, especially in the central movement, is assured.

The recording was made in the Philharmonie in Ludwigshafen and sounds attractive, albeit the engineers, as noted, weren’t able to tame things at the start of the Bruch. Let’s hope this heralds the first in a long line of recordings from a clearly talented young musician.

Jonathan Woolf  


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