Warmth and virtuosity underpin both sonata and concerto

Liya Petrova: Respighi, Walton

The Strad Issue: July 2023

Description: Warmth and virtuosity underpin both sonata and concerto

Musicians: Liya Petrova (violin) Adam Laloum (piano) Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Duncan Ward

Works: Respighi: Violin Sonata in B minor. Walton: Violin Concerto op.30

Catalogue number: MIRARE MIR670

Walton’s Violin Concerto opens with languid dialogue between solo violin and wind as equal partners, oozing sultry warmth. Liya Petrova performs the first section of the first movement with flair and dexterity, punching out the syncopations and, after the crispness and colour of the orchestral tutti, she plays with an easy, lyrical elasticity. She twinkles and dazzles in the central Presto capriccioso alla napolitana, playing it pretty straight, with clarity and accuracy. The languorous air of the opening movement reappears in the Vivace finale. Her tone is lush, and she shapes the twisting melodic line of the Tranquillo section with a touch of rubato. Her staccato crotchets, double-stopped or otherwise, have an edge of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale about them.

Petrova’s tone at the start of Respighi’s sonata has a baritonal hue, and she performs the composer’s florid lyrical writing with pliant phrasing. Pianist Adam Laloum plays the opening of the second-movement Andante as if it were a Debussian improvisation, with Petrova taking over in a timeless and occasionally ecstatic reverie, before performing the poco più mosso as an exultant call to arms, with ringing tone and crisp rhythms. She uses a powerful, intense tone in the finale, and both players make the most of the big Largamente finish. The recording is close and clear.