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František BENDA (1709-1786)
Violin Concerto in D major (c.1760) [22:39]
Václav PICHL (1741-1805)
Violin Concerto in D major Op.3 No.1 [17:55]
Antonín VRANICKÝ (1761-1820)
Violin Concerto in C major [25:47]
Gabriela Demeterová (violin)
Prague Chamber Orchestra/Milan Lajčík
rec. October 1994, Domovina Studio, Prague
SUPRAPHON SU3977-2 [66:30]
Experience Classicsonline

This is a slight puzzle. I’ve not been able to research this properly but I’m not aware that these recordings have been available before, which means that they’ve lain in Supraphon’s vaults for about fifteen years. 1994 was a good year for Gabriela Demeterová, by which time she’d won the main violin prizes available in the then Czechoslovakia and was beginning to make a name for herself. In recent years she has studied with baroque specialists but this was not the case when she made these recordings.

Benda’s concerto is probably the best known of the three. Fellow Czech fiddler Josef Suk has recorded this with his eponymous chamber orchestra conducted by a member of the august Benda lineage [Naxos 8.5553902]. The Prague Chamber Orchestra is a modern instrument band but plays without undue weight. There’s a well-balanced harpsichord. Demeterová herself uses a variety of vibrato speeds but takes care not to press too heavily with the bow. Articulation remains crisp but not finicky. The opening of the Benda is nicely modulated and there’s a gallant sophistication in the slow movement. It’s played without overmuch sense of personality, if I can put it that way, but the brief cadenza is elegantly dispatched, and the sprightly horns make their mark in the finale where Benda indulges his soloist in some moments of virtuosic passagework.

The Pichl concerto resides somewhere between the liveable gentile quality of Monn and the buoyancy and wit of Haydn. The slow movement is lyrically expressive with orchestration that remains light but pertinently telling, and a finale that tests the soloist’s technical surety. Of the three concertos however it’s Vranický’s that has possibly the strongest profile. The opening is bold, imperially bristling, to which the solo line responds with gracioso modifications. This clever playing off of orchestra and solo violin is a feature of this work; note the appealing solo violin scale in the Adagio in response to the orchestral statements. This moment is delightfully long-breathed and expressive. The finale is an Alla Pollacca, and has gaiety, and personality in profusion.

The performances as intimated are attractive, and the works well worth revisiting. Take a punt on the Vranický if you don’t know it: it’s a real winner.

Jonathan Woolf




































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