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Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

LABELS: Warner
WORKS: Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 5; Sinfonia Concertante
PERFORMER: Vilde Frang (violin), Maxim Rysanov (viola); Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen
CATALOGUE NO: 0825646276776


The First Concerto is immediately captivating: light, energetic and brightly coloured, setting the scene perfectly for Vilde Frang’s entry. It’s an early indication of the integrity of these performances, where soloist, conductor and orchestra are at one. Frang has the knack of breathing life into every note, whether by variations in phrasing, attack, tone or dynamic – just a few of the weapons in her impressive musical armoury. She can turn from skittish to bold in the space of a bar, and there’s nothing gratuitous about any of her decisions: even in the faster movements, there’s always time for the music, and the finale of the First Concerto fizzes.

In the more substantial Fifth Concerto, there’s greater weight of sound, but still intricate detail. Mozart wrong-foots us in the opening Allegro aperto by having the soloist enter with a meditative adagio,and Frang and Jonathan Cohen judge the tempo relationship and change of mood to perfection. Similarly, in the final Rondo, which starts as an elegant minuet, the unexpected Turkish episode makes its point without going over the top.

There are two complementary personalities at work in the Sinfonia Concertante, coming through in the Andante, where Frang’s first phrase is redolent of expressive possibilities, taken up but not exactly imitated by Maxim Rysanov. Its plangent, tragic mood is reflected in the wiry orchestral sound, with carefully graded vibrato, and countered by another extrovert, playful finale. Compelling listening throughout, with button-bright sound.


Martin Cotton