Though still a student at the Prague Academy, the 19-year-old Czech violinist Miroslav Ambroš has a quite impressive list of prizes in youth competitions to his name, which has led to concerts with major Czech orchestras. For his debut recording he has chosen a programme of well-known ‘lollipops’ that places the disc in a highly competitive market.
He is obviously a young man with flair and plenty of fiery Slav temperament, and the spectrum of difficulties presented by Sarasate in his Faust paraphrase immediately establishes an admirable dexterity that deals with the need to fly around the violin. Throughout the release Ambroš is never shy in manipulating rhythms with a freedom that adds to that sense of achieving the impossible. At times, as in Wieniawski’s Scherzo-tarantelle, youthful impetuosity tempts him into tempos that are too adventurous. It is here that intonation begins to suffer, a problem equally found in Bodorová’s Dza more, a horrendously difficult solo violin piece where rapid cross-string double-stopping betrays any weakness in tuning.
He is better where speed is temporarily suspended, as in a graceful account of Kreisler’s Caprice viennois, while Spohr’s charming Barcarole finds his 1734 Camillo de Camilli singing eloquently. Elsewhere, and particularly in Paganini’s ‘Mosé’ Variations, the instrument yields the most wonderfully rounded tone on the lower strings.
Ambroš ends with a lightning and exciting dash through Bazzini’s La ronde des lutins, and his mother, a teacher at the Prague Conservatoire, supports him throughout with nimble and pliable accompaniments. I want more warmth around the violin sound, but the partnership is well balanced.