This is now the fourth CD released by Naxos, to their great
credit, of the shamefully neglected music of the French composer-violinist
Pierre Rode. It follows discs of Violin Concertos nos. 7, 10
and 13 in 2009 (8.570469, two reviews),
the 24 Caprices for Solo Violin the same year - 8.570958, review,
also recorded for release last year by CPO, for which see review
- and the 12 Etudes for Solo Violin (8.572604) just a few months
Anyone familiar with the Violin Concertos of Paganini will be
well prepared for the three in this programme. Yet Rode, the
great violin virtuoso who inspired and premiered Beethoven's
last Violin Sonata op.96, was much more than France's answer
to Paganini or the older Viotti. He deserves to be remembered
for more than the fact that he was Napoleon Bonaparte's and
then Tsar Alexander I's personal violinist, and certainly for
more than his hairstyle, which is astonishingly à la
2011 - see the cover print for evidence!
These three concertos, all first recordings, are minor masterpieces
of their time and place. Though highly taxing for the soloist
- even if Friedemann Eichhorn does not let it show - they are
hugely entertaining and satisfying for the listener. The beautiful
Violin Concerto in B flat, for example, is rightly considered
one of Rode's jewels, and its dancing rhythms, joie-de-vivre
and endlessly lyrical solo lines are typical of Rode's writing.
His slow movements, always adagio, are stunning, Mozartean
cantilenas. There is none of the exhibitionism that Paganini
liked to indulge in - Rode's musicianship is as aesthetic as
his gift for melody is boundless, with double-stopping and fancy
harmonics eschewed in favour of high-speed and often filigree
passage-work, musical expression always to the fore.
The Jena Philharmonic, in its first recording for Naxos, under
the Uruguayan conductor Nicolás Pasquet - whom some may
recall from his complete László Lajtha symphonies
series with the Pécs Symphony Orchestra (now the Pannon
Philharmonic - Pécs) for Marco Polo in the late 1990s
- work splendidly and modestly together and with Eichhorn to
produce expressive, persuasive accounts of the three Concertos.
Eichhorn's own cadenzas are as dazzling as his playing, which
is sweet of tone, fleet of finger and marvellously communicative.
Sound quality is fairly good - just a little on the flat side,
with occasional, distant traffic rumble just audible during
the cadenzas. The dense booklet notes are well written and informative,
though as usual only yielding up their micro-font secrets to
those with good eyesight or an appropriate magnifying tool.
Collected reviews and contact at reviews.gramma.co.uk
see also review by Brian