Peter Quantrill listens to the performance of Daniel Kidane’s violin concerto Aloud at London’s Royal Festival Hall on 16 March 2024 

Julia Fischer with the LPO under Edward Gardner. Photo: courtesy LPO

Julia Fischer with the LPO under Edward Gardner. Photo: courtesy LPO

As a one-time violinist with the Bruch and Mendelssohn concertos under his fingers, Daniel Kidane knows how to write for violin and orchestra from the inside. On the strength of this assured first performance, Aloud is that rare event among new violin concertos, staging an often violent and unpredictable battle between soloist and ensemble, in which neither side is cowed by the other.

The ostensible melodic premise is a Cossack folk song, reflecting Kidane’s Russian and Ukrainian heritage on his father’s side. A low-key, atmospheric opening, contracting and relaxing into violin recitatives, earns the right to the turmoil that occupies much of the opening movement. Along the way, Julia Fischer brought her trademark poise and even tone to a richly varied solo part, testing of technique, varied in dialogue with a large orchestra, and developing fragments of the folksong with a refreshing clarity of purpose.

A second movement initially promised soaring lyricism over a more subdued orchestral texture but delivered nervy, Bartókian tension, and left Fischer alone for a substantial cadenza. With the slightest hint of an up-beat, the music vanished, leaving behind an imaginary finale, like the Cheshire Cat’s smile or the ghost of a hollow laugh, and the welcome sense that a second listening would shed light on its satisfyingly elusive form.

PETER QUANTRILL