The Strad Issue: January 2010
Musicians: Tedi Papavrami (violin) Liège Philharmonic Orchestra/François-Xavier Roth
Composer: Saint-Saëns, Chausson, Ysaÿe

Tedi Papavrami has two immediate advantages here: he possesses a sound of ravishing purity and he is an out-and-out sensualist who plays these glorious scores with affectionate warmth. Even bearing in mind exalted versions of the above from the likes of Rabin, Szeryng and Zukerman, there is an engaging sincerity about Papavrami’s playing that is enormously affecting.  

The Saint-Saëns B minor Concerto is a work that doesn’t respond particularly kindly to the swaggering virtuoso style. Despite the occasional rhetorical gesturing of the outer movements, there is a chamber-scale intimacy about much of the writing – and the central Andantino in particular – that requires a gentler touch. This is where Papavrami’s tender yet sparkling approach pays real dividends, most notably in the finale, where the secondary material is played with a beguiling radiance.

There is no more challenging work in the violin repertoire than Chausson’s post-Wagnerian Poème. The suffocating intensity of its chromatically inflected phrases can easily pall if not deftly handled, and in this important respect Papavrami has few rivals as he rides the tide of Chausson’s surging emotions with a sleight-of-hand assuredness.  François-Xavier Roth directs the Liège Philharmonic with flair and sensitivity, and the rich, velvety sound, if not particularly detailed, creates an alluring backdrop.