WORKS: Violin Concerto; Legends, Op. 59
PERFORMER: Richard Tognetti (violin); Nordic Chamber Orchestra/Christian Lindberg
CATALOGUE NO: BIS CD-1708
While it has never been one of great 19th-century violin concertos, the continuing appearance of new recordings of the Dvorák indicates a rising curve of popularity.
There is much to admire in this passionate, lyrically engaging work: abundant attractive melody, including one of the loveliest passages Dvorák ever penned – the inspired bridge from the first movement to the start of the Adagio – and a superbly exhilarating finale. As a whole, the Concerto gives every impression of spontaneity and yet there were many layers of revision to all aspects of the work.
The challenge for the soloist, apart from the extensive virtuosity of the solo part, is to make the most of the contrasts without over-inflating the musical argument. Richard Tognetti is at his best in his superbly flexible rendition of the opening cadenza.
Parts of the slow movement also show him being expressively responsive, although not everyone will warm to his slightly throaty tone at the start of the Adagio. Christian Lindberg does not help with an overly flexible approach to tempos where diminuendos are read too often as encouragement to slow down.
There are things to enjoy in the Legends, not least the clear relish of the wind players, but overall this rather heavily recorded issue is distinctly patchy. Jan Smaczny