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The Romantic Violin Concerto

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The Romantic Violin Concerto 21 - Bruch

The Romantic Violin Concerto 21 - Bruch


Bruch:

Violin Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 44

Konzertstück, Op. 84

In Memoriam, Op. 65

Adagio appassionato Op. 57


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here

The ‘justly celebrated’ Jack Liebeck (as described by The Strad) follows in the footsteps of Heifetz and Perlman in championing Bruch’s now neglected Violin Concerto No 2, originally written for Sarasate. Three shorter concertante works for violin and orchestra complete the album (Bruch thought the Adagio appassionato one of his best works) which marks volume 21 in our highly regarded Romantic Violin Concerto series.

“Throughout the Second Concerto, with its unforgettable soaring opening, Liebeck combines a beguiling silvery sound with tantalising interpretative restraint, free of heart-on-the-sleeve rhetoric…rarely has Bruch’s melodic genius been sounded with such chaste sweetness as here, ideally complimented by Liebeck’s captivating narrow-fast vibrato” BBC Music Magazine, January 2017 ****

“There’s much to admire in Jack Liebeck’s patrician account of Bruch’s D Minor Violin Concerto. His playing is virtually flawless in its technical ease, scintillating articulateness and purity of tone.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2017

“Impressive performances of the Concerto and of the ‘lesser’ pieces.” MusicWeb International, 1st February 2017

“Liebeck is certainly equal to all the challenges, moving from impeccable double-stopping one moment to the sweetest, most ardent of tones in some of the more impassioned passages.” Presto Classical, 23rd December 2016

“as Jack Liebeck’s nicely restrained performance shows, [Bruch's Second Violin Concerto is] a piece that’s perfectly capable of standing on its own musical feet. His fine-grained playing gets exemplary support from Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, who never overdo the menace that underlies the first movement especially” The Guardian, 23rd December 2016 ****

Presto Disc of the Week

23rd December 2016

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The Romantic Violin Concerto 20 - Stojowski & Wieniawski

The Romantic Violin Concerto 20 - Stojowski & Wieniawski


Stojowski:

Violin Concerto, Op. 22

Romance for violin & orchestra, Op. 20

Wieniawski:

Fantaisie brillante on themes from Gounod's Faust, Op. 20


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here

The music of Zygmunt Stojowski has yet to benefit from the renaissance enjoyed by other Polish composers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His violin concerto—enthusiastically received at its premiere—is here revivified alongside Wieniawski’s dazzling Fantaisie in volume 20 of our Romantic Violin Concerto series.

“Nizol posseses an ideal silvery sound for this late-Romantic work, enhanced by gently, cushioned bow-strokes, ear-ringingly true intonation and a fast and narrow vibrato that gives his cantabile playing a captivating eloquence.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2016 *****

“Bartłomiej Nizioł rises admirably to the challenges posed by these works with his ripe yet never over-succulent tone, tempered by focused vibrato and secure technique…Łukasz Borowicz has the BBC Scottish SO sounding at home on Polish soil” Classical Ear, September 2016 *****

“[Nizioł] has a seductively silky-smooth tone and a narrow vibrato, and plays with exactly the kind of lyrical, ecstatic intensity that Stojowski’s demanding Violin Concerto requires. He is partnered by Łukasz Borowicz who, as in his Hyperion piano concerto recordings with Jonathan Plowright, lends an explosive dynamic to proceedings” Gramophone Magazine, August 2016

“A nice apportionment of showy dazzle, confidently ardent melody and staunch determination.” MusicWeb International, 28th July 2016

“Stojowski’s compatriot Bartłomiej Nizioł (who’s previously done sterling work exploring lesser-known Polish repertoire on the Dux label) performs [the concerto] with palpable affection and a lightness and sweetness of tone tempered with moments of astringency that prevent everything from becoming too saccharine.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 5th August 2016

Presto Disc of the Week

5th August 2016

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The Romantic Violin Concerto 19 - Bruch

The Romantic Violin Concerto 19 - Bruch


Bruch:

Serenade in A minor for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 75

Romance in A minor for violin & orchestra, Op. 42

Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26


Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No 1 is the daddy—the most popular ever written. Much recorded, Jack Liebeck turns in a dazzling performance of youthful vigour, prefacing the Concerto with the gorgeous Serenade and a Romance.

“Liebeck certainly has the technioque and the temperament...Brabbins doesn't let the music sit down in the first movement [of the Concerto], which has energy and direction from all concerned...[Liebeck] doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve, letting the music speak for itself, but I can't helping feeling that the orchestra carries the main emotional burden.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2016 ***

“what Liebeck seems to be saying is that Bruch needs no additional sweeteners. His playing is unpretentious and strikingly introspective, resulting in an Adagio of quiet dignity. And even if the first movement doesn't quite match the grandeur of Julia Fischer's or the sweaty passion of Vadim Gluzman's, it stands out for its poise and clarity.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2016

“Liebeck is a red-blooded, eloquent advocate throughout.” The Guardian, 21st January 2016 ***

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The Romantic Violin Concerto 18 - Jongen & Lazzari

The Romantic Violin Concerto 18 - Jongen & Lazzari


Jongen:

Fantasia in E major, Op. 12

Adagio symphonique in B major, Op. 20

Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 17

Lazzari, S:

Rapsodie in E minor


The Romantic Violin Concerto series reaches Belgium and the music of Joseph Jongen, a composer more celebrated for his organ music now, but who was equally admired in his day for his orchestral and chamber works. Jongen studied at the Liège Conservatoire where he heard the great violinist Eugène Ysaÿe and composer-conductors Vincent d’Indy and Richard Strauss.

In this new album Philippe Graffin (a welcome and familiar presence in this series) collaborates with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic and Martyn Brabbins in Jongen’s Violin Concerto, one of the composer’s first substantial works. It was described by his contemporary Florent Schmitt as ‘one of the finest violin concertos’; and he admired the ‘outpouring of warm lyricism’ and ‘lush profusion of themes and rhythms’.

Also included are other works for violin and orchestra, and a Rapsodie for the same forces by Italian Romantic Sylvio Lazzari (1857–1944) who was influenced—as was Jongen—by the music of César Franck.

“Strongly tonal and lyrical, Jongen's chief influences seem to be Richard Strauss and Cesar Franck…[Graffin's] tender, slender tone in softer passages is one of the disc's main attractions but is not sufficiently brilliant to match with equal vigour the full might of the orchestra.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2015

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The Romantic Violin Concerto 17 - Bruch

The Romantic Violin Concerto 17 - Bruch


Bruch:

Violin Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 58

Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46


Award-winning violinist Jack Liebeck brings his impassioned tones, fulsome emotional display and formidable technique to the first of three albums of music by Max Bruch.

This programme presents one of Bruch’s most popular pieces for violin and orchestra, the Scottish Fantasy, alongside one of his least known, the Violin Concerto No 3 in D minor, Op 58. Anyone hearing Jack Liebeck’s performance may well wonder why this concerto has languished in the lumber room for so long—it has never been heard at the BBC Proms, for example. It was written for Joseph Joachim who gave the premiere in Düsseldorf and subsequently played the concerto in Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt, Strasbourg, Breslau, Leipzig, Cologne and London (for the Philharmonic Society).

The Scottish Fantasy in E flat major, Op 46 (or more correctly ‘Fantasia for the violin with orchestra and harp, freely using Scottish folk melodies’), was written in Berlin during the winter of 1879–80 for Sarasate and reflected the Spaniard’s more colourful personality. Although Bruch never visited Scotland, he was typical of German Romantics in having a fascination with the picture of the country painted by such writers as Walter Scott. For the Scottish Fantasy he drew on James Johnson’s voluminous folk-song collection The Scots Musical Museum.

“Jack Liebeck and conductor Martyn Brabbins work hard to make the music come alive. Liebeck’s playing is consistently fresh and his phrasing always imaginative” The Guardian, 23rd October 2014 ***

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The Romantic Violin Concerto 16 - Busoni & Strauss

The Romantic Violin Concerto 16 - Busoni & Strauss


Beethoven:

Missa Solemnis in D major, Op. 123 - Benedictus

arranged for violin and orchestra by Ferruccio Busoni. First recording

Busoni:

Violin Concerto, Op. 35a

Strauss, R:

Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 8


German violinist Tanja Becker-Bender returns to the Romantic Violin Concerto series having dazzled the critics with her ‘great lyrical force and tremendous sense of drama’ in her recording of the Reger concerto. Here she appears with Hyperion house band the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Garry Walker, in Volume 16: concertos by Busoni and Strauss, each composer’s only example of the genre.

In D major, the key of Beethoven’s and Brahms’s violin concertos, Busoni’s Violin Concerto is clearly intended to continue their lineage—significantly, Busoni wrote cadenzas for both of them—although it never descends into mere imitation. Although it uses quite a large orchestra, it is transparently scored, with plenty of Italianate cantilena for the soloist. Also included is Busoni’s transcription of the Benedictus from Beethoven’s Missa solemnis, which brings the solo violin to the fore, with instrumental obbligati representing the vocal contributions.

The seventeen-year-old Strauss wrote his Violin Concerto in 1881–2, during his final year at the Ludwigsgymnasium. The work was dedicated to Strauss’s violin teacher Benno Walter (1847–1901), concertmaster of the Bavarian Court Orchestra. The work is fairly unknown on the concert platform; as Tully Potter writes in his booklet notes, Tanja Becker-Bender’s interpretation should win it new friends.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“[The Busoni] audibly haunted by the ghosts of Beethoven and Brahms's violin concertos, but at just 23 minutes long, it's far less daunting. It's tuneful and easygoing too, and as Tanja Becker-Bender's performance on the latest instalment of Hyperion's romantic violin concerto series underlines, it's hard to understand why it isn't performed more often.” The Guardian, 21st August 2014 ***

“this performance [of the Strauss] is very persuasive indeed...The real discovery of the disc for me, however, was definitely the Busoni concerto. This piece was completely new to me, but it's full of fantastic music and such imaginative touches of orchestration that I was instantly hooked...It's a wonderful performance, and has definitely converted me to the Busoni cause!” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, 21st July 2014

“She plays with ...sweet tone, sureness [of] intonation and complete understanding of Busoni's music...She plays [the Strauss][ for all its worth though cannot disguise the longueurs of the opening...Her accounts of the Lento ma non troppo and concluding Prestissimo are winning. An excellent disc.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2014

“Becker-Bender plays with enthusiasm and accuracy, and when she finally hits a whimsical melody about six minutes in[to the Busoni], it's charming and skittish...There's plenty of virtuosic solo writing [in the Strauss], and Becker-Bender negotiates the double-stops with ease.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2014 ****

Presto Disc of the Week

21st July 2014

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The Romantic Violin Concerto 15 - Młynarski & Zarzycki

The Romantic Violin Concerto 15 - Młynarski & Zarzycki


Mlynarski:

Violin Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 11

Violin Concerto No. 2 in D major, Op. 16

Zarzycki:

Introduction and Cracovienne, Op. 35

Mazurka in G, Op. 26


Eugene Ugorski (violin)

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Michał Dworzyński

In this latest volume of Hyperion’s Romantic Violin Concerto series, we journey to Poland (in the company of a conductor from that country) for two concertos by Młynarski and two works for violin and orchestra by Zarzycki (who will be familiar to Romantic Piano Concerto collectors).

Lithuanian-born Emil Młynarski was the father-in-law of Artur Rubinstein and was appointed director of the Warsaw Philharmonic in 1900. He had a busy international conducting career which included the LSO in London, the Scottish Orchestra and the Philadelphia Grand Opera company. His Violin Concerto No 1 in D minor, Op 11, dedicated to Leopold Auer, was written in 1897 and won a prize in the Paderewski Composition Competition. Młynarski takes as his models the virtuoso works of Vieuxtemps and Wieniawski, and the main mood is a fresh, youthful lyricism. Surprisingly, after its initial success, this Concerto was not played again until Piotr Plawner took it up in 2011. His Violin Concerto No 2 was premiered by the Warsaw Philharmonic in April 1920, with Paweł Kochański as soloist and Młynarski conducting. The concerto has remained in the repertoire of Polish violinists.

Like most Polish composers, including Chopin and Młynarski, Zarzycki also wrote pieces in the form of the krakowiak, a fastish 2/4 dance from the Krakow region. It became popular in Vienna as the Krakauer, and in Paris as the Cracovienne. The Introduction et Cracovienne in D major, Op 35, was well liked by violinists in Zarzycki’s own time but amazingly was not recorded until the CD era. The Mazurka on the other hand is the composer’s best-known work and was recorded by Oistrakh, amongst others.

“Not only the first recording of both Mlynarski's Violin Concertos together, but the premiere of his haunting First Concerto in a warm performance. The smaller Zarzycki works are attractive, too.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2014 ****

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The Romantic Violin Concerto 14 - Glazunov & Schoeck

The Romantic Violin Concerto 14 - Glazunov & Schoeck


Glazunov:

Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 82

Meditation, Op. 32

Mazurka-Oberek in D major for violin and orchestra

Schoeck:

Concerto quasi una fantasia for violin & orchestra in B flat major Op. 21


The brilliant young violinist Chloë Hanslip has recorded another volume of Hyperion’s Romantic Violin Concerto series, and displays her usual insouciant virtuosity and obvious delight in the music.

Glazunov’s Violin Concerto, written for Leopold Auer, is a masterpiece of violin writing, including a brilliantly effective cadenza by the composer himself. As Hans Keller wrote, ‘Glazunov created an almost perfect concerto—instrumentally, the best I know amongst pianists’ violin concertos’.

Swiss composer Othmar Schoek is probably best known for his Lieder. His Concerto quasi una fantasia in B flat major, Op 21, for violin and full orchestra is his most substantial concert work. The lyric passion and attractiveness of the work’s ideas earn it a distinguished place among the violin concertos of the immediate pre-World War I period.

“though Hanslip has a persuasively rich, dark tone for the opening melancholy [of the Glazunov], the dynamic nuancing falls a little by the wayside...Hanslip's polished directness and a flawless recording keep [the Schoeck] handsome.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2013 ***

“Hanslip captures Schoeck’s concerto with breathtaking eloquence” Financial Times, 13th April 2013

“Hanslip gives a most convincing performance; her unobtrusive musicianship, with subtle variations in tone to match the emotional colour of each phrase, is admirably suited to the music's refined expressiveness...Hanslip is also persuasive in the Glazunov Concerto” Gramophone Magazine, May 2013

“[Hanslip] plays adeptly and intelligently throughout...[her] fresh-minted and engrossing account [of the Schoeck] is delivered with obvious affection for the music and her performance, more strongly idiomatic than that of the Glazunov, should win this underrated piece many new friends.” International Record Review, May 2013

“Schoeck’s concerto really does deserve a wide audience for it is a hugely attractive work and for much of the time the violin spins lines of enchanting lyricism...Hanslip seems to me to make an excellent job of the solo part; the long, singing lines and her sweet tone could have been made for each other.” MusicWeb International, 22nd May 2013

“Chloe Hanslip gives both concertos agile, nicely contained performances, even if the orchestral support under Alexander Vedernikov is rather undistinguished” The Guardian, 21st February 2013 ***

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The Romantic Violin Concerto 13 - Schumann

The Romantic Violin Concerto 13 - Schumann


Schumann:

Violin Concerto in D minor, WoO 23

Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 129 (arranged from the Cello Concerto)

Fantasie in C major for Violin and Orchestra, Op.131


Hyperion is pleased to present a thirteenth volume of the Romantic Violin Concerto. Although frequently featuring virtuoso showpieces by the composer–violinists of the nineteenth century, this series also includes works of great musical interest which for one reason or another have not entered the repertoire. The performance history of all three pieces recorded here is indissolubly linked with the turmoil of Schumann’s last years.

Schumann’s Violin Concerto in D minor had to wait till 1937 for its premiere and has never become a standard work, but in the hands of Anthony Marwood it sounds remarkable. The Phantasie, by contrast, was lauded at its premiere and performed a number of times by Joachim. The Violin Concerto in A minor was arranged by Schumann from his Cello Concerto of the same opus number and is an important work in its own right.

Marwood’s great technique and thoughtful musicianship have made him increasingly an artist to notice, and he performs frequently in Australia and America as well as throughout Europe. Here he is accompanied by Hyperion’s ‘house band’, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Douglas Boyd.

“There's little Marwood can do to disguise the shortcomings of the solo writing [of the D minor concerto], or the repetitions of the finale, but he and the BBC Scottish Symphony under Douglas Boyd go at it with a great deal of enthusiasm, with the solo line very prominent in the sound picture.” The Guardian, 29th August 2012 ***

“in a performance as strong and imaginative as this one by Anthony Marwood its impact is considerable. The sinew of the first movement, with its bold opening statement and toughness of inner workings, is contrasted with the mellow, reflective lyricism of the central slow one...There are firm Schumann fingerprints all over the score, and it fully merits the passionate advocacy that it receives here” The Telegraph, 6th September 2012

“Marwood's tone is notably characteristically focused with a notable sweetness which is matched by Wallin...Boyd and his Scottish players set ideal tempi in outer movements, enabling Marwood to negotiate fearlessly the fairly awkward and largely middle-range-lying solo writing...Utterly winning and authoritative.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2012

“[Marwood's] tone is sweetly centred, and avoids excessive contrasts between the upper and lower strings, so equalisation is the name of the game. So, too, is a certain chamber-scaled approach, with give-and-take with the orchestral wind principals...Marwood and Douglas Boyd keep the music on the go and bring out its felicitous colour” MusicWeb International, December 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2012

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The Romantic Violin Concerto 12 - Vieuxtemps

The Romantic Violin Concerto 12 - Vieuxtemps


Vieuxtemps:

Violin Concerto No. 1 in E major, Op. 10

Violin Concerto No. 2 in F sharp minor, Op. 19

Greeting to America, Op. 56


Hyperion’s record of the month for May heralds a new collaboration with the brilliant young British violinist Chloë Hanslip, the former child prodigy famously signed to Warner Classics at the age of just fourteen. Here, she lends her now-mature talents to the second release in Hyperion’s overview of Vieuxtemps’ Violin Concertos and Volume 12 of the burgeoning Romantic Violin Concerto series.

Henry Vieuxtemps (1820–1881) was a French violin virtuoso who, after the death of Paganini, was widely considered to be the best violinist in Europe. Besides being a brilliant player, he was a remarkably fine composer, as demonstrated in these, his first two concertos. Alongside the memorable violin fireworks, Vieuxtemps here shows a well-argued musical sensibility that straddles both the Classical and Romantic eras as well as the ability to write gorgeous, almost operatic slow movements in the best bel canto tradition.

“rhythmically taut, meticulously executed performances...few will be able to resist Hanslip's deliciously coquettish handling of the rondo movements of both concertos.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2012

“At 40 minutes, the First Concerto has its longeurs...But it's beautifully shaped by Martyn Brabbins, with a warm resonant sound to the recording, and Chloe 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 meaningfully phrased with a variety of tone and dynamics.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2012 ****

“Hanslip brings a wealth of neatly sculpted phrasing to bear to the E major, her feminine sounding wistfulness warmed with just enough tremulousness to vest the music with a particularly satisfying sense of characterisation.” MusicWeb International, June 2012

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