Convincingly blowing the cobwebs off another almost-forgotten violin concerto

The Strad Issue: July 2019

Description: Convincingly blowing the cobwebs off another almost-forgotten violin concerto

Musicians: Linus Roth (violin) BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Antony Hermus

Works: LASSEN Violin Concerto in D major op.87 SCHARWENKA Violin Concerto in G major op.95 LANGGAARD Violin Concerto

Catalogue Number: HYPERION CDA68268

‘Any enterprising soloist seeking to bring lesser-known works to audiences overdosed on the familiar favourites would be well advised not to overlook this piece.’ So say the interesting booklet notes about Eduard Lassen’s long-overlooked Violin Concerto of 1888, and the more I listen, the more I agree with that analysis, and not simply because it’s the standout work and rightful opener within this particular programme. It’s lyrical and likeable, with strong, non-banal melodies (Lassen’s better-known talent for songwriting shines through), and structured just tightly and inventively enough for the attention not to flag. 

Still, the fact that it shines here as brightly as it does is thanks to Linus Roth, Antony Hermus and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra having so clearly thrown all their artistic, musicological and emotional weight behind it. Take the infectious energy and clear architecture the orchestra brings to the first movement from the off, and then the equally committed lithe, sunny lyricism with which Roth himself then joins the party. 

The other winning factor across the concerto is that it is never over-sentimental. The same is true for the 1894 Scharwenka, with its tender central Andante tranquillo the highlight, and the one-movement Langgaard of c.1843, most interesting for its featuring a solo piano part in addition to the violin. Things are kept clean-toned, with tempos and metre neatly bouncing along without dallying. Buy this for the Lassen, but certainly you’ll enjoy the lot.