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Sibelius, Ades: Violin Concertos / Hadelich, Lintu

Ades / Sibelius / Roayl Liverpool Philharmonic
Release Date: 03/11/2014 
Label:  Avie   Catalog #: 2276   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Jean SibeliusThomas Adès
Performer:  Augustin Hadelich
Conductor:  Hannu Lintu
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



ADÈS Violin Concerto. SIBELIUS Violin Concerto. 3 Humoresques, opp. 87 and 89 Augustin Hadelich (vn); Hannu Lintu, cond; Royal Liverpool PO AVIE 2276 (60:50)


I have had mixed feelings about the music of Thomas Adès in the past, particularly his operatic version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest . There is no doubting his Read more technical know-how or unbridled imagination, but at times I have felt these undeniable pluses have overwhelmed the form or the subject matter he is working with. I have no such reservations about the violin concerto of 2005. In three traditional movements (basically fast/slow/fast), and lasting just under 20 minutes, the work’s structure and aims are crystal clear. In this instance, all aspects of the composer’s considerable talent work in tandem. This is the concerto’s second recording. Its predecessor (on EMI, now Warner) features the soloist the piece was written for––Anthony Marwood––with the composer conducting the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. That performance may reasonably be described as authoritative, but it is always good to get a second opinion, particularly one where the musicians see the work in a somewhat different light.


Augustin Hadelich is from a recent generation of Juilliard graduates, and shares the attributes of other younger virtuosos: His technical accomplishment is a marvel, he approaches every score with sharp concentration on detail, and spends a lot of his time playing chamber music. His tone strikes me as steely rather than full, but there is more than a touch of the Romantic in his make-up. A distinctive attribute is his rhythmic sense, never allowing tricky changes of fingering or sheer showmanship to pull the tempo around in dance-inspired passages. His 2010 recital called Echoes of Paris , which included the violin sonatas of Poulenc, Debussy, and Prokofiev (No. 2), remains one of my favorite discs of recent times. Poulenc’s Sonata, for one, has rarely been subject to such interpretative scrutiny.


Hadelich treats Adès’s piece as a mainstream violin concerto. The extra application of tone he gives the first theme of the second movement, his bouncy lightness of touch in the figuration of the third, and an overall tendency on the part of both soloist and conductor to relax at any opportunity for lyricism are precisely the characteristics they would bring to a mainstream work (and, in fact, bring to the Sibelius Concerto). Marwood and Adès seem more driven, although Hadelich and Lintu get through the work 40 seconds faster. Perhaps the driving impression comes from Marwood’s incisive attack and clean line, and the punchier contribution of the orchestra under the composer. The COE is recorded in a closer balance than the Liverpool orchestra. Without Hadelich’s tendency to soften lyrical moments, the first movement’s structural arc is clearer with Marwood. As I say, these differences are matters of choice and do not point to one version being better than the other. Both are excellent, so couplings may decide the matter. The Marwood disc couples the concerto with other recent orchestral pieces by Adès.


When it comes to the Sibelius Concerto, the recorded competition is endless. Here Lintu, who is Finnish, is very much on home ground. Features that stand out are the contemplative quality both musicians bring to the closing section of the slow movement––as though time was standing still momentarily––and the lilting tempo they set and maintain for the dancelike theme of the finale. I certainly swayed in time with them! Fanfare ’s roster boasts experts on both Sibelius and the violin discography––for all I know, one of our specialist critics may be reviewing this release too––so I will merely add that Hadelich’s performance now joins my shortlist of favorites: Victoria Mullova, exquisite in the opening statement, Sergei Khachatryan for freshness, and Jascha Heifetz for sheer force of personality.


The latter quality also applies in spades to Aaron Rosand’s old Vox recording of Sibelius’s Six Humoresques for violin and orchestra. Hadelich plays three of them here (opp. 87/2, 89/2, and 89/3) and produces charming if slightly low-key readings. Next to Rosand, he and Lintu seem to be overthinking these joyful miniatures; this is music that should simply pour forth.


FANFARE: Phillip Scott    
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Violin in D minor, Op. 47 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Augustin Hadelich (Violin)
Conductor:  Hannu Lintu
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903-1905; Finland 
2.
Concerto for Violin "Concentric Paths" by Thomas Adès
Performer:  Augustin Hadelich (Violin)
Conductor:  Hannu Lintu
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2005 
3.
Humoresques (6) for Violin and Orchestra: no 5 in E flat major, Op. 89 no 3 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Augustin Hadelich (Violin)
Conductor:  Hannu Lintu
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1917; Finland 
4.
Humoresques (6) for Violin and Orchestra: no 4 in G minor, Op. 89 no 2 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Augustin Hadelich (Violin)
Conductor:  Hannu Lintu
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1917; Finland 
5.
Humoresques (6) for Violin and Orchestra: no 2 in D major, Op. 87 no 2 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Augustin Hadelich (Violin)
Conductor:  Hannu Lintu
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1917; Finland 

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