WORKS: Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor; Violin Concerto No. 2 in D minor
PERFORMER: Nai-Yuan Hu (violin)Seattle Symphony/Gerard Schwarz
CATALOGUE NO: DE 3156 DDD
Karl Goldmark’s posthumous reputation hangs largely upon just two works: his fine A minor Violin Concerto (recorded here), and the Rustic Wedding Symphony. The greater part of his life (1830-1915) was spent in Vienna, where this concerto was introduced in 1878. Taiwanese violinist Nai-Yuan Hu is an awesomely capable performer, whose technical facility, musical intelligence and unfaltering verve place him among the higher echelons of today’s string virtuosi. That he has elected, moreover, to record two pitifully neglected Romantic masterworks distances him from a generation of violinistic super-clones, content to rehash perfunctory, off-the-shelf Tchaikovsky, Sibelius and Paganini.
Nai-Yuan Hu’s account is beautifully conceived; the opening movement, by turns militant and rhapsodic, and the eloquently songful Andante reveal impressive opulence of tone and idiomatically characterised dialogue with the Seattle Symphony under Gerard Schwarz – they’ve seldom sounded so ardently committed and responsive as here. Goldmark’s exuberant Rondo finale demands virtuosity and stamina in equal measure; Hu lacks neither, and his playing of the cadenza, unusually written out in full, is magnificent. Max Bruch’s Second Violin Concerto of 1878, a nobly proportioned work, quite the equal of the over-played G minor Concerto (1868) and less familiar Scottish Fantasy (1880), receives a performance of sufficient charisma, accomplishment and passion to finally win the piece the attention it surely deserves. A triumphant CD debut for Nai-Yuan Hu – Bravo! Michael Jameson