Gubaidulina • Shostakovich

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COMPOSERS: Gubaidulina; Shostakovich
LABELS: Challenge Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Gubaidulina • Shostakovich
WORKS: In tempus praesens; Violin Concerto No. 1
PERFORMER: Simone Lamsma (violin); Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra/James Gaffigan; Reinbert de Leeuw (‘In tempus praesens’)


Dutch violinist Simone Lamsma, whose few recordings have been of Romantic or late-Romantic works, now ventures into contemporary repertoire with Gubaidulina’s extraordinarily evocative concerto, In tempus praesens. This makes richly imaginative use of a large orchestra (including Wagner tuba and amplified harpsichord), and in this live performance casts its spell under the baton of Reinbert de Leeuw. There are two previous recordings of this work, both better recorded although there is little to choose between Lamsma’s performance and Vadim Gluzman’s equally fine account (on BIS). Yet neither match the wild strangeness of the premiere recording by its dedicatee, Anne-Sophie Mutter, partnered by Valery Gergiev conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in wonderfully resonant yet clear sound (on Deutsche Grammphon). Lamsma, despite her intense and rather eerie vibrato at the start, sounds positively conventional in comparison.

Lamsma faces even stiffer competition for the Shostakovich. Her studio recording, conducted by James Gaffigan, follows the opening movement’s published metronome mark, making it flow more swiftly than usual. This does make the task of creating the usual foreboding atmosphere harder to achieve – but Lamsma appears not to be aiming for that effect. For all her virtuosic ability, Lamsma’s performance is never more than conventionally ‘expressive’. There is no sense of candid communication as one hears, for instance, in Maxim Vengerov’s acclaimed recording with the LSO and Rostropovich (on Warner Apex). Tellingly, where Vengerov breathes meaning into the rising arpeggios that open the cadenza after the Passacaglia, Lamsma plays these as if they were no more than a dull technical exercise.


Daniel Jaffé