Szymanowski & Britten – Violin Concertos

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COMPOSERS: Britten,Szymanowski
WORKS: Szymanowski: Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 2; Britten: Violin Concerto
PERFORMER: Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin); Warsaw PO/Antoni Wit; *Swedish RSO/Manfred Honeck
CATALOGUE NO: 88697439992


 Szymanowski’s First Concerto has been well served by recordings over the years, if sparsely – perhaps because of the problems for all concerned. The soloist is required to maintain concentration and tone in a line which is almost always high on the instrument; the conductor needs a flexibility and acute sense of balance in the textures; the recording has to capture a myriad details.

Here Antoni Wit has a firm grasp of the ebb and flow of the music, and Frank Peter Zimmermann is accurate, if not always as magisterial as Oistrakh. He seems more at home in the Second Concerto, where the ecstatic element is leavened with the folk-influence that Szymanowski adopted later in his life – think Bartók rather than Scriabin.

The soloist isn’t always quite as centre-stage here, though again there’s an elaborate cadenza, which finds Zimmermann concentrated in the double stops. Sound doesn’t quite have the depth that EMI managed for Zehetmair and Rattle, but is wide ranging.

Competition in the Britten is as stiff, but Zimmermann is again responsive to the music’s changing moods, and expresses them with an enormously varied tonal palette, and in the scherzo, with considerable virtuosity. Manfred Honeck steers his orchestra expertly, and the Swedish recording has bite. Martin Cotton