WORKS: Violin Concerto in D; Romances
PERFORMER: Dmitry Sitkovetsky (violin)ASMF/Neville Marriner
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45001 2 DDD
Huggett’s is the second original instrument recording of the Beethoven Violin Concerto: Stephanie Chase pipped her at
the post with a version that won praise from HC Robbins Landon in these pages in October. Huggett’s instrument is an Amati, dating from 1618; its strings are made of gut but only the G-string is wire-wound. You notice immediately the relative smallness of her sound, and this is emphasised by the forceful accompaniment from Mackerras
and the OAE, underpinned with thunderous timpani, which occasionally overwhelms her. Tempi are fast, in the approved authentic manner, especially in the slow movement and the Rondo. Her technique is well up to it, and she sustains the extended span of the first movement well. But the commanding presence or nobility
of other interpreters is missing, though this is less important in the more straightforward coupling.
Sitkovetsky’s modern version, coupled with the two Romances,
is traditional not only in the instruments used but also in its stylistic approach. The far more leisurely speeds showcase his
lyricism and purity of tone, particularly in the slow movement, on which he spends a leisurely 10:21 minutes (Huggett 8:02), and which his instrument sings with all the tenderness of an operatic aria. Inevitably, he opts for Kreislerian pyrotechnics in the cadenzas,
while Huggett and Chase offer
their own attempts at something more appropriate.
In the original-instrument stakes, my preference lies with Stephanie Chase (Cala CACD 1013), not
least for her more dance-like finale. Sitkovetsky faces a formidable
array of competitors, but his
admirers won’t be disappointed. David Michaels