Dvořák Violin Concerto; Suk Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra; Liebeslied (arr S Koncz)
Eldbjørg Hemsing (violin); Antwerp Symphony Orchestra/Alan Buribayev
BIS BIS-2246 (hybrid CD/SACD) 63:02 mins
Bringing together works for violin and orchestra by Anton Dvořák and his beloved son-in-law and composition pupil Josef Suk has long been a popular pairing. Recordings range from Karel Ančerl and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra’s landmark performance with Josef Suk the younger (the composer’s grandson) as soloist, to Christian Tetzlaff and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra’s more recent disc, also featuring Suk’s Romance for violin and orchestra. This solid release from the excellent BIS label explores this same winning composer duo and features some fine playing but is perhaps not world-class.
Twenty-eight year old violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing has been something of a household name in Norway for a number of years, having given her concerto debut with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra at the tender age of 11. Her reading of the Dvořák is agile and characterful, although perhaps lacks the soaring sweetness that the Concerto’s central movement calls for, and the finale from both soloist and orchestra at times feels a touch heavy-handed. Both Hemsing and ensemble shine much more convincingly in Suk’s Fantasy in G minor (1902) a rip-roaring concerto-length work packed with virtuosic violin writing and sumptuous orchestral textures. The recording’s real highpoint is, however, the all-too-brief final track of the disc, Suk’s delightful ‘Liebeslied’ (the opening movement of his Six Piano Pieces of 1891-93) heard here in a clever arrangement for violin and orchestra by Stephan Koncz. Hemsing plays this endlessly tender ‘love song’ with a perfect blend of heart and restraint, closing the disc with a small but perfectly formed musical jewel.