Eötvös • Stravinsky
Eötvös: Violin Concerto No. 3; Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring
Isabelle Faust (violin); Orchestre de Paris/Pablo Heras-Casado
Harmonia Mundi HMM 902655 54:61 mins
This pairing of a new concerto and an old-but-evergreen ballet score makes perfect imaginative sense: the opening note of Stravinsky’s bassoon solo (a silky beauty in this performance) emerges perfectly out of the silence into which the last of Isabelle Faust’s final phrase dies away. It would be good to experience the segue in concert – an audience would have patience for under an hour’s more or less continuous running time – and to see as well as hear Faust in action, for she’s one of the most compelling violinists of our time.
In fact Eötvös’s Third Concerto for violin and orchestra could be half the length in its impressionistic wandering, which he describes as ‘not a rondo…more like a stroll through the mysterious building of the Alhambra’ – Heras-Casado is the director of the Granada Festival, and he, Faust and the architecture inspired the work. It’s not all wispy-ethereal; there’s walking pace as well as reverie, magical writing for not only the soloist but also clarinets, celesta and a mandolin which sometimes sounds like the cimbalom of Eötvös’s native Hungary. But the dreamwork seems to be done by the mid-way point.
As if in the shadow of these refined textures, Heres-Casado’s interpretation of The Rite is more sensual and clearly-etched than shatteringly powerful, despite the force of the bass in a recording which judiciously spotlights woodwind, coming through even the thicker ensembles. You always learn from each new recording of this always startling masterpiece, but you need to be thrilled as well; here the heart remained cool.