Both soloist and conductor take a while to get into their stride in the first movement of the Sibelius concerto.
Frank Peter Zimmermann seems at first to be trying a little too hard, which leads to some strangely effortful tone, though from the central cadenza onwards everything seems much more settled. Jansons also appears happier in the later stages of the movement: the fast sections generate terrific tension although there is certainly more coherence in Sibelius’s structure than Jansons seems prepared to reveal. No such problems arise with the slow movement and finale, both of which are given sym-pathetic and stirring performances.
Their rendition of Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto is, without reservation, excellent. Even the recorded sound, which in the Sibelius was at times a touch congested, is better, capturing Prokofiev’s open orchestral textures. Zimmermann and Jansons make an ideal pair in a performance which succeeds triumphantly in balancing elegance and irony. The orchestra accompanies with an instinctive feel for the work’s chamber-music scale, and neither conductor nor soloist gives in to the temptation to inflate the rhetoric or add unnecessary Romantic gestures. Qualms about the first movement of the Sibelius aside, this is an eminently likeable issue. Jan Smaczny