WORKS: Violin Concerto No. 2; Concerto Romantique, Op. 35; Scènes Poétiques, Op. 46
PERFORMER: Chloë Hanslip (violin); Slovak State PO, Kosice/Kirk Trevor
CATALOGUE NO: Naxos 8.570554
Benjamin Godard (1849-95) is usually remembered for the ‘Berceuse’ from Jocelyn. But what else? Has he suffered unfairly from what Stravinsky, à propos The Firebird, called a ‘success obstacle’? On the showing of this disc I can’t really think that he has. His orchestration is never less than competent, his modulations are convincing, and he can evoke mood. For me the best music here comes in the Scènes poétiques, where he seems to be enjoying himself rather than trying to impress – the final piece, ‘Au village’, taps into the cod rusticity that French composers in general found rather congenial, and at four minutes would make a splendid encore piece. In the two concertos, Chloë Hanslip produces a rich tone for Godard’s operatic, legato lines and she deals impeccably with the flights of virtuosity, but too often these are effects without discernible cause. Also the orchestral strings tend to harshness in the upper reaches and there are some tuning problems in thewoodwind (the transition from tracks 2 to 3 is particularly uncomfortable). Acceptable background listening, but not really much more.