Violin Concerto; Souvenir de Florence
Sarah Christian, Johannes Strake (violin); Wen Xiao Zheng, Jano Lisboa (viola), Maximilian Hornung, Jan-Erik Gustafsson (cello); Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen/Jérémie Rhorer
Berlin Classics 0301731BC 70:51 mins
Among so many Tchaikovsky masterpieces, the Violin Concerto and his late string sextet Souvenir de Florence top the list for happy inspirations. Both these performances represent true partnerships: Sarah Christian is one of three leaders (they say ‘concert master’) of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, a real army of generals, conducted with character here by Jérémie Rhorer. You can tell so much about the performance to come from the violin’s first entry: Christian’s is free, reflective and rich-toned on the right notes. The runs flow beautifully, the dialogues with distinguished woodwind colleagues in slow movement and finale (listen to Rie Kodama characterise a tiny bassoon phrase) brimming with personality. I’ve heard live Vivacissimos with even more dash, but it’s all clear and spirited.
There are many top-notch Souvenirs around, too; compared to a Czech team on a recent ArcoDivo release as well as Janine Jansen with friends on YouTube, Christian’s group don’t fly at the start, perhaps because there needs to be more recorded air around the sound. But subtle interplay abounds between the three main soloists – with Christian, first viola-player Wen Xiao Zheng and cellist Maximilian Hornung whose colleague, Jan-Erik Gustafsson, makes his presence felt throughout.