Matthew Trusler performs Prokofiev’s Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 2

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COMPOSERS: Prokofiev
LABELS: Orchid Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Prokofiev
WORKS: Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 2
PERFORMER: Matthew Trusler (violin); BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Grant Llewellyn


I very much enjoyed this recording – yet by the end felt slightly short-changed, and not only because the CD contains just the two concertos with room for another substantial work. Matthew Trusler is a scrupulous and engaging soloist, though his use of upward swooping portamentos in the First Concerto’s dreamy opening may not suit all tastes. That apart, and an occasional tendency to play just a microtone flat (such as at the opening of the Second Concerto’s slow movement), Trusler’s technique is exemplary. Every bow stroke is clearly articulated, even in the fiendishly tricky scherzo of the First Concerto. Tempos are generally a little steadier than in other recordings of these works, which gives one time to appreciate several details in the orchestration. 

But it is not all gain with these steadier tempos. While Trusler is impressive in the First Concerto’s scherzo, that movement doesn’t take wing, let alone to exhilarating effect as in James Ehnes’s recording with Gianandrea Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic (on Chandos). And the BBC National Orchestra of Wales does not quite conjure the enchantment found by others in Prokofiev’s magical orchestration for the First Concerto (in fairness, the Chandos recording is far more detailed and better balanced). Yet Llewellyn and BBC NOW accompany very effectively in the Second Concerto; their generally understated approach works well here, and Llewellyn introduces an edgy flexibility of tempo in the finale to exciting effect – if only the bass drum had a bit more heft in the final chord!


Daniel Jaffé