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Pierre RODE (1774-1830)
Violin Concerto No. 7 in A minor, Op. 9 (c.1803) [
Violin Concerto No. 10 in B minor, Op. 19 (1804-08) [
Violin Concerto No. 13 in F sharp minor, Op. posth. (c.1824) [19:53]
Friedemann Eichhorn (violin)
South West German Radio Orchestra, Kaiserlautern/Nicol
Šs Pasquet
rec. SWR Studio, Kaiserlautern, Germany, 29 January-1 February, 6-9 February 2007.
Includes free downloadable bonus track available from Classicsonline
NAXOS 8.570469 [58:00] 


Experience Classicsonline

Scion of the French violin school, pupil of Viotti, and one of the great violinistic figures of the first quarter of the nineteenth century Pierre Rode is best known for his 24 Caprices for solo violin. His thirteen extant violin concertos have apparently never been recorded, according to
Naxos, and I canít find any evidence of it either, though I do know that Isako Shinozaki and her piano accompanist S. Nagayo recorded a piano reduction of No.7 on Fontec EFO2025. Itís the kind of thing likely to have happened, given that these are works more performed in the practice room than on the concert stage or recording studio. 

Now we have three of them, including the most popular, No.7, in modern instrument performances. The Seventh Concerto opens with requisite Sturm und Drang, powerful and terse, before ushering in the soloist for copious amounts of dashing passagework and subsequent dolce legato phrasing. Rode ensures deft variation of material and if he doesnít quite banish feelings of repetition he knows when to unleash arresting orchestral fusillades. Those stirring orchestral chords that open the Adagio are certainly granitic but itís plain that the composerís heart is not in it and a song without words unfolds untroubled, refined. The finale is a frolicsome finger-twister, saucily spun, to which Eichhorn responds with aplomb. 

The Tenth Concerto dates from c.1804-08. Again this has a tense, rather troubled orchestral introduction Ė a Rode speciality that ultimately hints at depths the works canít quite sustain Ė with trumpets strikingly to the fore. The violinís opening panache-driven statements soon give way to the similar kind of dolce lines that animate so much of Rodeís virtuoso writing. Warmth and elegant charm predominate before the portentous start of the slow movement appears and itself gives way quickly to a wandering lyric line. Rode was fond of giving the soloist a cadential passage at the end of the slow movement and leading straight into the finale as he does here to good effect. The Polacca is playful, virtuosic, with the orchestra offering plausible supportive tapestries. 

By the time of the final concerto we find some more classical drama in the orchestral introduction. Itís more of the same really for the soloist along with strong sinewy orchestral responses in the tuttis. As ever Rode manages seemingly effortless lyric lines for the soloist in the slow movement and he serves up a vibrant finale complete with hunting horn motifs. 

The performances are deftly accomplished; no period style bow grip or set up here but no obviously distracting gestures either. The trouble with Rodeís concertos in the end is the persistence with which he infuses ornaments into the lyric writing, which emerges sounding more decorative than it might Ė or, arguably, should. Still, thatís no excuse for ignoring for so long these exemplary examples of the French Classical School; a fine case is made for them in these performances. 

Jonathan Woolf 

see also Review by Kevin Sutton



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