Corigliano: The Red Violin Concerto; Violin Sonata

COMPOSERS: Corigliano
LABELS: Sony
ALBUM TITLE: Corigliano
WORKS: The Red Violin Concerto; Violin Sonata
PERFORMER: Joshua Bell (violin), Jeremy Denk (piano); Baltimore SO/Marin Alsop
CATALOGUE NO: 82876880602
I’m sure there are sound ideological reasons for objecting to John Corigliano’s shameless neo-Romanticism in the Red Violin Concerto. The trouble is, he’s very good at it. Admittedly the Concerto isn’t the tautest of Corigliano’s large-scale structures – even the variation-structured

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first movement wanders – and the finale’s wildly eclectic showcase coda is slightly disappointing as a summing up. But there is so much stirring and seductive music along the way, and Joshua Bell brings it all off with magnificent assurance and conviction.

Corigliano may draw on modernist devices and effects to enrich his sound-world, but the Concerto has its roots just as firmly in the orchestral Gershwin or the Hollywood glamour of Korngold – and it’s none the worse for that. Old-world lyricism comes very easily to Corigliano, yet he is able to present it in a way which sounds fresh without resorting to post-modernist self-distancing trickery.

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There’s a similar refreshing lack of self-consciousness in the Violin Sonata. Again Romantic but with a Stravinsky-like acerbity and rhythmic vitality, it’s full of vigour and convinces on its own terms. Joshua Bell and pianist Jeremy Denk seem to enjoy it thoroughly. The recordings are good too, with plenty of warmth and clarity, and effectively balanced.Stephen Johnson