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Piazzolla • Schnittke • Schubert: Rondo for Violin and Strings, etc

Katherine Hunka, Nicola Sweeney (violin); Irish Chamber Orchestra (Orchid Classics)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Piazzolla • Schnittke • Schubert
Piazzolla: Cuarto Estaciones Porteñas; Oblivion; Schubert: Rondo for Violin and Strings in A major, D438; Schnittke: Moz-Art à la Haydn
Katherine Hunka, Nicola Sweeney (violin); Irish Chamber Orchestra
Orchid Classics ORC100130   58:02 mins


hroughout this extremely challenging programme, Katherine Hunka produces a beguiling, melt-in-the-mouth sonority on her Grancino violin. The enchanting Schubert Rondo is by no means the most felicitous of violin works, yet Hunka makes it sound utterly radiant, producing a subtly inflected, silvery purity, enhanced by a magical instinct for cantabile and flawless intonation.

The Piazzolla pieces are from an entirely different world of cultural and stylistic cross-referencing, yet Hunka and the gifted members of the Irish Chamber Orchestra sound equally at home here, throwing themselves into the fray with a no-holds-barred spontaneous abandonment that captures the music’s spirit as if spellbound by its dazzling inventiveness. The knife-edge rhythmic acuity and attack in Spring is frankly astonishing, while Summer’s more reflective central interlude finds Hunka inflecting her vibrato with exquisite suppleness. The lyrical cool of Oblivion has rarely sounded so achingly seductive.

Then everyone lets their hair down for Schnittke’s borderline-hysterical Moz-Art à la Haydn
romp, during which the members of the orchestra (a special mention must come here for violinist Nicola Sweeney) noisily shuffle around and start sobbing, before returning in a mad scramble to get back to their original seats. Exemplary production values from Andrew Keener and Simon Eadon and first-rate annotations from Joanna Wyld round out an exceptional release.


Julian Haylock