The Strad Issue: August 2015
Description: Contemporary music specialist performs a pair of violin standards
Musicians: Sinfonietta Riga/Thomas Gould (violin)
Composer: Beethoven, Vaughan Williams
Thomas Gould – familiar to British audiences as associate leader of the Britten Sinfonia and leader of the yet more dynamic Aurora Orchestra – has a strong track record in contemporary music. In his first disc for the Edition Classics label, though, he pairs Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with Vaughan Williams’s Lark Ascending.
The sound of Sinfonietta Riga in this live recording is a touch dense but there’s no lack of warmth in the playing. That goes for Gould too,
even though – lyrical as he can be, exploiting a sweet top end and a creamy middle – he could more fully inhabit Beethoven’s first movement. With characteristic adventurousness, Gould plays reverse-engineered cadenzas: transcribed for violin from those Beethoven provided for his piano-and-orchestra version of the Violin Concerto; in the first movement this draws in a theatrical timpani obbligato. In the second movement he moves easily between effortless chirruping and arrestingly delicate interior thoughts. The finale isn’t the most jubilant but it’s far from cautious. Gould’s Lark soars sweetly but this is not an effusive bird on display; rather it is one whose grace and elegance we admire from afar. Throughout, Gould’s playing is so lucid and polished that you wouldn’t believe this was a live recording.