The Strad Issue: January 2013
Description: A sympathetic performance of a little-known Romantic concerto
Musicians: Marianne Thorsen (violin) Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra/Neeme Järvi
Composer: Svendsen

As part of Chandos’s enterprising Svendsen orchestral series, Marianne Thorsen, who has already played a major role in the cycle, here turns her attention to the rarely heard Violin Concerto. Her sweet-toned purity, ringing intonation and beguiling espressivo prove ideal for the composer’s essentially gentle inspiration (musical points of contact with Mendelssohn’s E minor Concerto include sharing the same dedicatee: Svendsen’s teacher, Ferdinand David).

As one might expect from a composer who knew the violin ‘from the inside’, it is gratefully written, with lyrical passages subtly placed so as to hit the instrument’s natural sweet spots, and is cast in three (separate) movements, culminating in an enchanting, dance-like finale. Svendsen’s mastery of mid-Romantic textures and harmonies is a constant source of pleasure, even if, in the last resort, he fails to come up with a single truly memorable idea. That said, he could hardly wish for a more sympathetic and persuasive exponent than Thorsen, who receives first-rate backing from Neeme Järvi and his Bergen players in seductively realistic sound. The First Symphony is also well worth investigating.