A ‘satisfying and unusual’ recording of violin works by Prokofiev

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COMPOSERS: Prokofiev
LABELS: Channel Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Prokofiev
WORKS: Violin Concerto No. 2; Solo Violin Sonata in D; Five Melodies; The Love for Three Oranges – March; Andante
PERFORMER: Rosanne Philippens (violin), Julien Quentin (piano); St Gallen Symphony Orchestra/Otto Tausk
CATALOGUE NO: CCS 39517

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Quite a double whammy, this. Not only is the programme as a whole both satisfying and unusual, but also Rosanne Philippens’s startling partnership with the excellent St Gallen Symphony Orchestra and Otto Tausk puts her Prokofiev Second Violin Concerto right at the top of the many recent recordings – her (Dutch) compatriot Janine Jansen’s included. This most natural of concerto recordings was made in St Gallen’s Tonhalle, which must be very fine on this evidence. Orchestra and conductor extend their remarkable probing of Prokofiev’s sparer, mostly lower-end sonorities with a lugubrious envoi, the orchestral Andante of 1934. This was Prokofiev’s returning of the movement previously adapted from his student symphony in his Fourth Piano Sonata to orchestral guise. Solo timbres shine in the gloom; lower brass work is outstanding.

Philippens also turns in the most poetic and characterful performances of the late, D major Violin Sonata – originally intended by Prokofiev for a whole department of unison student violins – and the Five Melodies transcribed from the Songs without Words. As in the Concerto, Philippens keeps the right quiet dynamics, shrouded in sphinx-like atmosphere, and she’s limpidly partnered by pianist Julien Quentin. The headlong if always focused excitement of the Concerto’s dance-of-death finale is matched by the more straightforward exuberance of the March from The Love for Three Oranges arranged by Heifetz.

David Nice

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Listen to an excerpt from this recording here.