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Nimrod BORENSTEIN (b. 1969)
Violin Concerto, Op.60 (2013) [27:53]
The Big Bang and Creation of the Universe, Op.52 (2008-09) [19:46]
If You Will It, It Is No Dream, Op.58 (2012) [8:39]
Irmina Trynkos (violin)
Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Ashkenazy
rec. 2016, Henry Wood Hall, London
Reviewed in CD stereo

Nimrod Borenstein, Israeli by birth with a French upbringing, has done well to engage the loyalty of such a conductor and such a label. Some might say that the achievement is that Ashkenazy and Chandos have 'landed' Borenstein. As for the unfamiliar presence of the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra there need be no fears on that count. The name may strike you as provincial but the results glow as if this had been one London's big four.

Borenstein's Violin Concerto is in four movements: I Allegro, II Moderato, III Adagio, IV Allegro. It's a work of shivering vital succulence. The outer movements, sweetly sung and stormily raced, are reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann, Philip Glass, Michael Nyman and Samuel Barber (last movement of his Violin Concerto) in their full-on drive and indefatigable energy. The effect is rather like breathlessly accelerated Mendelssohn and Bruch, even in the touchingly rounded Adagio. Irmina Trynkos must be delighted to have this lovely work at her beck and call. She certainly rewards everyone, including Borenstein, with poetry and virtuosity.

The Big Bang and Creation of the Universe was written for the Philharmonia Orchestra. It has three movements. These are Light - Moderato; Peace - Adagio; Adam and Eve - Allegro. Borenstein touches on the sweetness of Malcolm Arnold (Light), pastoral serenity with Slavonic sorrow (Peace) and weightless delight in the manner of Arnold Rosner (Adam and Eve). It shares some of the glowing and ringing luminosity of the Adagio of the Violin Concerto as well as moments of that work's driven and tumbling happiness. This Genesis-inspired work dates from four years before the Concerto and was premiered by the same orchestra who play it here. It is dedicated to Zvi Meitar "by his loving family, on the occasion of his 75th birthday".

A much shorter piece, If You Will It, It Is No Dream, is almost brusque in its onrush. Again, the echoes are of Glass, at ecstatic speed, but this is not a minimalist piece. The green-leafed pastoral atmosphere of Peace from The Big Bang … is again drawn on. The closing statement is rather Gallic especially the woodwind. The ultimate 'pay-off' taps the deep vein of fast-pulsing joy which is such a hallmark of this composer's music.

This is not Borenstein's first album. His Suspended opus 69 (2014) was issued on Solaire Records SOL1001 and reviewed here. The Quasi Una Cadenza (2002) for solo violin is included in a mixed recital and has been reviewed by MWI.

The disc is complemented by a full introduction from Ivan Moody and a note by the composer. The booklet is in English, German and French. The disc as a whole is dedicated to Zvi Meitar (1933-2015) whose Foundation has been a major financial supporter of the Oxford Philharmonic for many years. The Foundation's missions are set out at the back of the booklet. They are various and numerous and include funding for the current renovations of the Royal Albert Hall, for the Ashmolean Museum and the Bodleian Library among others.

These are no compromise premiere recordings of joyous and seductively perfumed works which never lose touch with the need for movement rather than stasis.

Rob Barnett



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