Schumann: Violin Concerto in D minor; Cello Concerto in A minor (transcr. for violin)

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LABELS: Ondine
WORKS: Violin Concerto in D minor; Cello Concerto in A minor (transcr. for violin)
PERFORMER: John Storgårds (violin)Tampere PO/Leif Segerstam
Neither of these concertos saw the light of day until well into the 20th century. The D minor was Schumann’s last large-scale work, composed just a few months before his attempted suicide and eventual mental breakdown. Joseph Joachim, for whom it was written, Brahms and Clara Schumann all thought it kinder to suppress it, and it remained unpublished and unperformed until the Thirties. True, its polonaise-like finale is problematic (not for nothing did Schumann send Joachim a note, asking him to point out any passages which ‘smacked of unplayability’), but the concerto contains strikingly beautiful material, and its unforced cyclic unity is remarkable.


The companion-piece here is Schumann’s straightforward transcription of his Cello Concerto, with the original solo part appropriately transposed upwards. It was discovered among Joachim’s papers, but the premiere took place only as recently as 1987. The work was recorded a couple of years back by Gidon Kremer (perversely using Shostakovich’s rescoring of the original orchestral part), but this new version is certainly no less in tune with the music’s Romantic spirit. John Storgårds copes well with the more familiar D minor Concerto, too, though he is taxed by some of the finale’s more hair-raisingly difficult moments. Misha Donat