The Strad Issue: January 2014
Description: A fresh but purposeful coupling of two violin concertos
Musicians: Augustin Hadelich (violin) Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Hannu Lintu
Composer: Sibelius, Adès

The Sibelius and Adès violin concertos are not obvious companions for a CD. But Augustin Hadelich likes pairing pieces in which he sees subtle connections: harmonies, rhythms, textures. Combining them ‘makes each one shine in a way it wouldn’t without the other’, he writes. What definitely shines is Hadelich himself, whose bell-like tone in the upper register is ideal in Adès’s Concerto, playing among high wind or over growling low brass. He is superb weaving and shaping the extended lines of the central movement, ‘Paths’, and his flowing, melismatic playing in the third-movement ‘Rounds’ is beautiful. ‘Flexible’, Adès marks at one point, and so he is, snaking his way brilliantly through the shifting rhythmic landscape.

He shows equally effective liquid fluency in the first-movement cadenza of the Sibelius Concerto, never hurried but always moving forward. Nothing is unduly dwelt on, but the playing is full of detail. The whole movement has a majestic sweep to it, full of energy and vibrancy. Hadelich rather milks the slow movement, with his big G-string sound and fat vibrato, but he’s not alone in this. The finale is blistering, full of joie de vivre and constant tonal beauty, even in extremis. The three humoresques are great fun. The sound is clear and beautifully balanced between Hadelich and the excellent orchestra.