Foerster: Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 2

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LABELS: Supraphon
WORKS: Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 2
PERFORMER: Ivan Zenaty (violin); BBC Symphony Orchestra/Jirí Belohlávek


Written in what might be described as Josef Foerster’s ‘middle maturity’ (he died in 1951), these two violin concertos date from the 1910s and 1920s. The gem of the two is the Second, a serious and magnificently lyrical work which achieves heights of eloquence in a superbly sustained slow movement. The First Concerto is less striking, with the first movement lacking a strongly memorable initial idea. Much more appealing is finale which is full of poetry and develops an almost Mahlerian blitheness in its waltz-like sections. Full marks to Ivan Ženatý and Jirí Belohlávek for bringing these fascinating works to public attention. Their performances are considered and mostly very enjoyable. Belohlávek has a strong grasp of form and Ženatý clearly revels in the Romantic elements. At times there might have been a little more sense of direction from the soloist and, in the finale of the First Concerto, more humour, but these elegant, well-recorded performances certainly open up a new perspective on Czech late Romanticism. Jan Smaczny