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Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D (1931) [22:05]
Arthur HONEGGER (1892-1955) Pacific 231 (1923) [6:30]; Rugby (1928) [8:08]
Frank MARTIN (1890-1974) Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (1951) [32:55]
Igor STRAVINSKY Circus Polka (1942) [3:43]
Baiba Skride (violin)
BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Thierry Fischer
rec. 28-30 June 2011, BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff
ORFEO C849 121 A [75:31]

Experience Classicsonline

My first encounter on disc with Baiba Skride took the form of her highly impressive recording of the Brahms Concerto (review). Here she essays vastly different music in the shape of two important twentieth-century concertos for her instrument.
Stravinsky’s neo-classical concerto receives a keenly alert reading – from the orchestra as well as from the soloist. The musicians impart an appropriate tang to the music in the opening Toccata. I found the performance of the third movement, Aria II, particularly engaging; Miss Skride’s tone is lovely hereabouts. The vigorous Capriccio is despatched with relish. Both the soloist and the orchestra, under Thierry Fischer’s adroit direction, offer very clean and sharply profiled playing. The music making is light-footed and characterful and the orchestra’s leader – Lesley Hatfield, I presume – earns a share of the plaudits for duetting so seamlessly with the soloist. This is not a work to which I warm instinctively but I admired this very good performance.
The Frank Martin concerto is much less well-known than the Stravinsky piece but it’s an intriguing work that deserves much more exposure. The first of its three movements, an Andante tranquillo, opens with a magical, resourcefully scored orchestral introduction. As this intriguing movement unfolds the soloist’s part mixes lyrical passages with opportunities for display, the latter including an extensive and stretching cadenza near the end. It seems to me that Baiba Skride is completely on top of all the technical and interpretative demands that Martin places on his soloist and Thierry Fischer guides his orchestra most skilfully. The highly atmospheric way in which the orchestra delivers the movement’s hushed ending typifies their fine contribution.
The second movement, Andante molto moderato, wears a serious countenance. Much of the music is subtle and subdued though there are a few powerful but brief episodes along the way. The performance is full of sensitivity and all the musicians shade Martin’s music very well. The passionate climax near the end of the movement has great weight and dramatic thrust. The Presto finale is often light-textured and, by the standards of this essentially serious composer, the music is outgoing if not exactly high spirited. Baiba Skride offers a vivacious account of it and, as ever, she’s ably supported by the orchestra. As I said earlier, this concerto deserves more exposure and the present performers make the best possible case for it.
The three short orchestral pieces by Honegger, the first two of his Symphonic Movements, and Stravinsky make well-chosen ‘fillers’ and all of them are very well done by Fischer and his orchestra. These complete an enterprising and well-executed programme.
The performances are captured in good sound and Chris Walton contributes a useful programme note.
This disc is another fine achievement by Baiba Skride and I see that her admirers can look forward to a forthcoming Schumann disc.
John Quinn

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