The Strad Issue: January 2013
Description: Easy virtuosity on display in early Romantic repertoire
Musicians: Ingolf Turban (violin) Kolja Lessing (piano)
Composer: Spohr

Ingolf Turban and Kolja Lessing are worthy advocates for the blend of virtuosity, emotional unpredictability and lyrical charm that comprises Spohr’s Grand Duo concertant op.112. They possess the requisite surety of technique to overcome the various digital challenges and put them to good musical service: consequently, alongside playing of sometimes neat and other times muscular virtuosity, there are some sublimely lyrical moments, with rubato gainfully employed and expressive contrasts strikingly interpreted. Indeed, it seems churlish to wish for greater sensuality from Turban in the first movement’s development and the Larghetto, a touch more drama in the scherzo’s trio and a generally more unbuttoned approach, in order fully to realise Spohr’s somewhat quirky fertility.

Turban captures Spohr’s declamatory violin idiom with aplomb in the ternary Adagio in G major, dispatching its various embellishments with appropriate flexibility and, with Lessing’s assistance, making good sense of its often progressive harmony. And these players’ easy virtuosity holds one enthralled in their accounts of the six Salonstücke op.135, which successfully capture these miniatures’ charming characteristics, ranging from the melodious Barcarole to the capricious scherzo and central section of the Romantic Mazurka, the restless Sarabande and the challenging Siciliano and Air Varié. Balance seems about right in this clear, bright recording.