Glass: Violin Concerto; Company; Prelude & Dance from Akhnaten

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

WORKS: Violin Concerto; Company; Prelude & Dance from Akhnaten
PERFORMER: Adele Anthony (violin); Ulster Orchestra/Takuo Yuasa
CATALOGUE NO: 8.554568
Full marks to Naxos for its continuing 20th-century music releases. And while the Glass Violin Concerto may not exactly need another outing on CD, this budget-priced offering will at least bring the work to a wider audience. The disc contains a fine performance of the piece: Adele Anthony proves an eloquent soloist whose appealingly understated playing, well articulated and carefully coloured, fits in nicely with the stark, unrelenting formalism of the work. She could perhaps let rip a little more in some of Glass’s more flamboyant moments, but her clarity of tone is engaging. The Ulster Orchestra fares less well in the Concerto – it’s a little ragged here and there, and some of Glass’s rhythmic subtleties are occasionally lost – but Takuo Yuasa proves a fine proponent of Company and the two sections from Akhnaten, instilling them with a sometimes unsettling sense of urgency in well-shaped readings. It’s the quality of the recorded sound which lets the disc down, and badly: the music sounds extremely muffled throughout, lacking any clarity in treble or bass, so that in loud tuttis it’s often quite uncomfortable to listen to. Which is a shame, since the performances are of such high quality. Robert McDuffie’s reading of the Concerto on Telarc is more flamboyant (with excellent ‘surround sound’) but lacks the poise of Anthony, while Gidon Kremer gives a characterful account which benefits from DG’s near-faultless recording. David Kettle