The Strad Issue: January 2008
Musicians: Nemanja Radulovic (violin) Prague Chamber Orchestra
Composer: Mendelssohn

Nemanja Radulovic won the Joachim (2003) and Enescu (2001) competitions as a teenager. Now nearly 23, he gives his youthful emotions full poetic rein in these sparsely edited, ‘live’ readings.

Radulovic and the orchestra capture the martial character of much of the opening Allegro of Mendelssohn’s early D minor Concerto and admirably convey its contrapuntal interest, bold lyricism, dramatic declamatory contrasts and challenging solo passagework. The central romance is sustained by Radulovic’s sweet, silvery tone and some warm string colouring from the adroit Prague ensemble, whose buoyancy lends precision and vigour to the Hungarian finale. The ease and confidence of the soloist’s virtuosity are consistently compelling, even if his intonation is occasionally called into question.

Although there are some more strongly characterised readings of Mendelssohn’s E minor concerto on the market, Radulovic’s account is imaginative, polished and mature. He shapes the composer’s line and phrase persuasively, maintaining a degree of restraint, but he avoids mannerism and the intensity of his feeling is never in doubt – sample, for instance, his introduction of the first movement’s expressive second theme and his realisation of the cadenza. His reading of the Andante has a gentle grace: he holds back for the darker, more passionate central section to make a convincing climax. And his tempo for the exhilarating finale is carefully judged – he acknowledges the important woodwind role, allowing every note to be put in place and building to a strong culmination in the coda. Matters of balance are well handled, permitting Radulovic’s 1843 Vuillaume to penetrate the full and spacious orchestral sound.