Bartók * Mendelssohn

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Bartok,Mendelssohn
LABELS: Avie
ALBUM TITLE: Bartók * Mendelssohn
WORKS: Violin Concerto No. 2, Violin Concerto
PERFORMER: Augustin Hadelich (violin); Norwegian Radio Orchesta/Miguel Harth-Bedoya
CATALOGUE NO: AV 2323

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Over recent years, the Italian-born, German-rooted violinist Augustin Hadelich has been establishing himself as an exciting and distinctive soloist, not least through his series of recordings on Avie. He has a vivid tone, bright and supple, with a deep-seated rhythmic sense and plenty of mercurial dazzle at his disposal. And it’s the kind of sound you can quickly begin to recognise as his – something relatively unusual these days.

Nevertheless, he is not the first lively, engaging violinist to steam through the Mendelssohn Concerto without quite nailing its point. This account, though extremely well played, seems to conceive the work as a grand-scale Romantic firework display. Mendelssohn’s lightness of touch, his awareness of half-lit, enchanted atmospheres, rarely comes through, and the somewhat heavy-handed accompaniment from the Norwegian Radio Orchestra and Harth-Bedoya does little to assist that. Hadelich sounds more at home in the Bartók Concerto No. 2. This makes an interesting pairing with the Mendelssohn – sharing with it not only a perfectionist concision of thought, but also a rich vein of intense sensitivity and imagination.

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Hadelich manages to make this supposedly ‘difficult’ work sound as approachable and lyrical as any Romantic warhorse, which is an achievement in itself. His expressive range traverses a satisfying sonic rainbow as the work progresses; and he delivers the ultra-demanding solo part with unfailing precision, yet as if it were the most natural thing in the world. The orchestra and its conductor remain efficient rather than inspiring. Jessica Duchen