Glazunov: Violin Concerto; Meditation for Violin & Orchestra; The Seasons

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WORKS: Violin Concerto; Meditation for Violin & Orchestra; The Seasons
PERFORMER: Aaron Rosand (violin); Malaysian PO/Kees Bakels
In the UK at least, the Malaysian Philharmonic is not yet a household name. It was formed in 1997 thanks to the generosity – let’s call it – of a Malaysian petrol company, and gave its inaugural concert the year after under the stewardship of music director Kees Bakels. The orchestra’s concert programme includes dress code stipulations that seem quaint to us scruffy-sophisticated Britishers, such as ‘Long-sleeve batik’ or ‘lounge suite or smart casual’. I doubt I would get past the door, which makes me all the more delighted to have had the chance to hear the orchestra on disc. In the relatively short period of their time together, Bakels has marshalled the orchestra into a disciplined unit without having resorted to any compromises on spontaneity or lightness of touch. In Glazunov’s ballet score The Seasons – a seductive and neglected work which betrays the influence of Glazunov’s friend and teacher Rimsky-Korsakov – these qualities are to the fore, and make for a thoroughly beguiling and exhilarating listening experience. In the more often performed Violin Concerto, soloist Aaron Rosand is a commanding presence, responsive to every twist and turn of music whose spirit he seems to comprehend intuitively. Equally in the brief Meditation for violin and orchestra, Rosand succeeds in giving a fresh face to Glazunov’s familiar harmonic world. Until now, I would have opted for Anne-Sophie Mutter’s recording of the Concerto, but the coupling of The Seasons makes this a very recommendable first choice. Christopher Wood