COMPOSERS: Henri Vieuxtemps
ALBUM TITLE: Vieuxtemps Violin Concertos
WORKS: Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 2; Greeting to America
PERFORMER: Chloë Hanslip (violin); Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra/Martyn Brabbins
CATALOGUE NO: CDA67878
At 40 minutes, the First Concerto has its longeurs, not least in its opening tutti, where Vieuxtemps conventionally lays out his various themes. But it’s beautifully shaped by Martyn Brabbins, with a warm resonant sound to the recording, and Chloë Hanslip’s entry doesn’t disappoint. There’s a lovely depth to her tone in the dolce first theme, and the acrobatics which Vieuxtemps puts her through are not just surmounted, with double-stops impeccably crafted even at speed, but are meaningfully phrased with a variety of tone and dynamics. She also finds character in the lyrical Adagio, and the more playful Rondo Finale, with its swaggering main theme.
The Second Concerto, a slighter piece, was actually composed earlier, and relies more on clichés of harmony and figuration to stay afloat. It gives the soloist similar problems and rewards, most of which Hanslip is eager to enjoy: a key word, as I really feel a smile coming out of the loudspeakers, especially in some of the delicious rubato in the Finale. And the mix of sentiment and display is once more on show in Greeting to America, composed for Vieuxtemps’s first American tour, which has fun with The Star-Spangled Banner and Yankee Doodle.