The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
Svendsen: Violin Concerto in A major op.6, Symphony no.1, Norwegian Artists’ Carnival, Two Icelandic Melodies
A sympathetic performance of a little-known Romantic concerto
Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Marianne Thorsen (violin) Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra/Neeme Järvi
Chandos CHAN 10766
As part of Chandos’s enterprising Svendsen orchestral series, Marianne Thorsen, who has already played a major role in the cycle, here turns her attention to the rarely heard Violin Concerto. Her sweet-toned purity, ringing intonation and beguiling espressivo prove ideal for the composer’s essentially gentle inspiration (musical points of contact with Mendelssohn’s E minor Concerto include sharing the same dedicatee: Svendsen’s teacher, Ferdinand David).
As one might expect from a composer who knew the violin ‘from the inside’, it is gratefully written, with lyrical passages subtly placed so as to hit the instrument’s natural sweet spots, and is cast in three (separate) movements, culminating in an enchanting, dance-like finale. Svendsen’s mastery of mid-Romantic textures and harmonies is a constant source of pleasure, even if, in the last resort, he fails to come up with a single truly memorable idea. That said, he could hardly wish for a more sympathetic and persuasive exponent than Thorsen, who receives first-rate backing from Neeme Järvi and his Bergen players in seductively realistic sound. The First Symphony is also well worth investigating.
From the June 2013 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.