Beethoven/Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in D; Violin Concerto (check)

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven/Mendelssohn
LABELS: EMI Eminence
WORKS: Violin Concerto in D; Violin Concerto (check)
PERFORMER: Monica Huggett (violin)Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/Charles Mackerras
CATALOGUE NO: CDEMX 2217 DDD
Huggett’s is the second original instrument recording of the Beethoven Violin Concerto: Stephanie Chase pipped her at

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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 utterance

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

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admirers won’t be disappointed. David Michaels