WORKS: Humoresque No. 1; Humoresque No. 2; Humoresque No. 3; Humoresque No. 4; Humoresque No. 5; Humoresque No. 6
PERFORMER: Mela Tenenbaum (violin, viola, viola d’amore); Czech Philharmonic CO, Pro Musica Prague/Richard Kapp
CATALOGUE NO: CD 1075
The Six Humoresques are among the most underrated and least performed of Sibelius’s works. We know that he was toying with the idea of a Second Violin Concerto in 1915 and it is not too fanciful to imagine that some of these ideas might have found their way into it. Mela Tenenbaum does not always allow the music to speak for itself and is not averse to tiny expressive hesitations. She is not a patch on Dong-Suk Kang (BIS) or such earlier interpreters as Salvatore Accardo or Aaron Rosand.
In the Fifties the Concerto dell’albatro by Giorgio Federico Ghedini was periodically broadcast but he has since fallen out of the repertory. His output, incidentally, includes an opera on Billy Budd from 1949. Il belprato, a concerto for violin and strings from 1947, and the Musica da concerto of 1953 are works of some quality (the Prokofiev-like second movement of Il belprato is imaginative) but neither is particularly well served here. Tenenbaum does not produce a particularly warm or beautiful sound, nor does the Pro Musica Prague, and the recording is dryish and two-dimensional. The booklet notes are not well written (at the time of the First World War, we read, ‘Sibelius found himself prematurely obsolesced’): they are uninformed on matters Sibelian and marred by factual errors. Robert Layton