Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1; Violin Concerto No. 2; The Gadfly – Romance

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COMPOSERS: Shostakovich
LABELS: Warner
ALBUM TITLE: Shostakovich
WORKS: Violin Concerto No. 1; Violin Concerto No. 2; The Gadfly – Romance
PERFORMER: Daniel Hope (violin); BBC Symphony Orchestra/Maxim Shostakovich
CATALOGUE NO: 2564 62546-2
As with his disc of Berg and Britten concertos, Daniel Hope here delivers penetrating and intense performances. In the First Concerto he draws the listener into the atmosphere of each movement from the very outset – the bleak landscape of the Nocturne, the savage mockery of the Scherzo, the combination of nobility and world-weariness in the Passacaglia and the manic abandon of the Burlesque. It’s also typical of Hope that the cadenza emerges as a thoughtful symphonic development of motivic ideas rather than a gratuitous opportunity for technical wizardry. In the first and third movements Maxim Shostakovich adopts expansive tempos similar to those taken by Rostropovich and the LSO in Maxim Vengerov’s Elatus recording, though the nuancing of the orchestral part is perhaps more cumbersome in places than in the earlier version.

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Whilst marginally preferring Vengerov in the First Concerto, in the emotionally elusive Second it’s Hope who seems to probe further beneath the surface of this dark and desolate music, breathing new life into those familiar and misleadingly simplistic thematic patterns. Hope carefully maps out the dramatic plan of each movement making sure that in the opening Moderato sufficient tension is saved for the central climax and sustaining the line in the introvert Adagio. The slightly deliberate tempo taken by Hope and Maxim Shostakovich in the Finale serves to accentuate its anger and brutality. A very desirable release indeed. Erik Levi