Nielsen, Bruch

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Bruch,Nielsen
WORKS: Violin Concerto
PERFORMER: Nikolai Znaider (violin); LPO/Lawrence Foster
Carl Nielsen’s now eloquent, now playfully wacky Violin Concerto (1911) is in two movements, each with a lengthy slow introduction. Nikolai Znaider’s flexibility, imagination and spontaneity at the beginning hint at depths that Cho-Liang Lin does not explore in his much-admired version with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. But are these new insights just a bit forced? The advantages of this slower tempo scarcely compensate for the loss of lilt in the molto tranquillo passage. In the introduction to the second movement, Znaider and Foster are again slow, this time less insightfully; the dynamic shaping of Lin and Salonen is far more incisive and convincing. In the first movement proper Lin scores more often with chiselled detail, but there’s much to admire in Znaider’s view of the concluding rondo. In particular, the staccato treatment of the opening theme is a more trenchant solution than Lin’s debonair evasion, and Znaider finds magic when he takes seriously the pianissimo marking for the G minor tune at 1:23. Ultimately, the Lin/Salonen collaboration remains a more polished and fully realised performance. Znaider plays the Bruch concerto very well, with Lawrence Foster and the LPO providing fervent support. Beside the warm, natural phrasing of Kyung-Wha Chung and Rudolf Kempe, however, the final result has just a touch of deliberate calculation about it. Znaider’s sound is a beautiful combination of richness and clarity; EMI balances him further forward than Decca did Chung nearly three decades ago. David Breckbill