Vasks, Weill

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COMPOSERS: Vasks,Weill
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Vasks/ Weill : Vilolin Concertos
WORKS: Vasks
PERFORMER: Anthony Marwood (violin); Academy of St Martin in the Fields
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67496
What an imaginative idea to couple these two dramatically different works. Weill’s 1925 Violin Concerto with its incisive instrumental accompaniment of wind, brass and percussion is a typically compelling essay in dry neo-classicism which comes close to the styles of Hindemith and Stravinsky in places, but nonetheless reveals individual touches of grotesquerie and snatches of popular dance rhythms that presage his later collaboration with Bertolt Brecht. In contrast Peteris Vasks’s Concerto, subtitled Distant Light and composed for his fellow Latvian-born violinist Gidon Kremer in the mid 1990s, places the violin against the much warmer textures of a string orchestra. It’s a particularly haunting piece – an unbroken threnody of laments, folk-inflected rhythms and ethereal sounds that weaves a mesmeric spell over the listener.

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Anthony Marwood has championed the Vasks over a number of years and delivers a wonderfully moving and intense performance of the solo part. The strings of the Academy of St Martins in the Fields are responsive partners maintaining a tight grip over the musical argument but without sacrificing any element of poetry. Their colleagues in the wind, brass and percussions departments prove equally adept in the spiky passage work of the Weill, and the lack of a separate conductor doesn’t inhibit Marwood from extracting the maximum degree of virtuosity and sensitivity from Weill’s knotty writing. Christian Teztlaff on Virgin Classics offers even more bravura and a greater sense of urgency in the closing section of the Finale of the Weill, but the fine recording and inspired programme makes this a very special disc indeed. Erik Levi