Lush, silken strings and a charming soloist in this Strauss collection

Strauss Little

The Strad Issue: July 2019

Description: Lush, silken strings and a charming soloist in this Strauss collection

Musicians: Tasmin Little (violin)1 Michael McHale (piano)2 Julie Price (bassoon)BBC Symphony Orchestra/Michael Collins (clarinet)3 4

Works: STRAUSS Violin Concerto in D minor1, Burleske2, Duett-Concertino3, Romanze4

Catalogue Number: CHANDOS CHAN 20034

With this new account appearing hot on the heels of Arabella Steinbacher’s recording (reviewed February 2019), Strauss’s Cinderella of a violin concerto seems to be winning new admirers among players. Tasmin Little brings her sweet tone and emotional commitment to this early work in an account that plays on the music’s charm and fleet-footedness. 

There’s a Mendelssohnian lightness, especially in the finale, that feels wholly appropriate, yet also a warmth to the first movement’s second theme and to the pensive central Lento. Just occasionally, Little’s generous vibrato on long, held notes tends towards the queasy, but her variety and richness of colouration, and her tonal flexibility across changing moods, prove to be ample compensation. 

The slightly boomy acoustic of LSO St Luke’s muddies the orchestral accompaniment to a certain extent, an issue that also affects the concertante works here for piano (the Burleske, where the crucial timpani lack crispness) and solo clarinet (the 15-year-old Strauss’s Romanze). But the Duett-Concertino, recorded on a later date at the BBC’s Maida Vale studios, fares better in terms of sound, and the strings of the BBC Symphony Orchestra provide silken and lush support for conductor/clarinettist Michael Collins and bassoonist Julie Price.