Notes and Editorial Reviews
Strange how fashion moves on. It has left any piece for solo instrument and orchestra having the effrontery to call itself anything other than concerto in the wasteland. Such pieces now have a life on CD alone except for the rarest concert exceptions and competitions (and then usually in a version with piano). So be it. Though it is strange that when the public is more easily captivated by the 3 minute sound-byte that these shorter pieces are not more popular in concert.
These bon-bons are dispatched with affectionate zest by Rosand who plays them for every subtle turn and dexterous twist and every gramme of neon excitement. He is in total rapport with his orchestra and conductor. The recordings are all excellent given their twenty years worn lightly except for the harsh Berliox Reverie et Caprice.
The Northern sun and moon play in brilliantly poetic limelight over the Sibelius Humoresques. I learnt these utterly lovable pieces from this recording when it was issued with a recording of Nielsen's Symphony No. 6 on Turnabout LP. These are the distilled quintessence of Sibelian temperament - romance in all its cool lunar intensity. The benign Tchaikovsky Serenade is done with meditative reserve. The brash edge on the solo violin in the Berlioz piece compromises what is otherwise a sentimentally doleful performance. The Saint-Saens Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso has been well done by many violinists (Ulf Hoelscher is one of my favourite recordings - EMI). Rosand turns in an exotic performance - accented balletically and not short on crackling energy bursts. In the case of the rather revolutionary Chausson Poème I have recently heard the Vadim Repin version on Teldec and prefer the richer air brought about through the plusher modern EMI recording. The Chausson is a terribly neglected work forward-looking, meditative, with touches of Delius. Hearing the Rosand again I am torn. Rosand seems to put his all into this music and it pays in dividends of eloquence. The Ravel Tzigane I first heard during the early 1970s on a Philips Universo LP played by Arthur Grumiaux - a most affecting performance more effective, I thought, in its fanciful introspection than in the flyaway acrobatics. Rosand is good in both.
The second disc breaks the mould by including a work which calls itself 'concerto'. Saint-Saens' Third is a true warhorse having been much recorded by all and sundry amongst the violinistic brethren. The three Saint-Saens concertos have charm, Beethovenian gravitas (from the violin concerto, that is) and some flashy witchery but they lack the exoticism of the Caprice Andalou (would that Rosand would tackle that work!), the Havanaise, and the Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso. Rosand matches the requirements of this work most beautifully but I do not find this concerto the most involving of pieces at the best of times lacking the very melodic distinction that marks out his second piano concerto and third symphony. It always strikes me as a work that is going through the romantic motions.
The Havanaise is a different matter altogether and while I have fond memories and great affection for the Leonid Kogan version Rosand is all quiet grace, restful smiles, sprinting brilliance, sparks flying everywhere. Next time Class Fm (or its equivalent elsewhere ) wants to try a soupçon of soothing music which has true character they should reach for this track. A recording and performance to count alongside the best. You will want to play it again and again.
From Havanaise it is a natural progression to move to Lalo's once ubiquitous Symphonie Espagnole. With its glaring Brahmsianisms, stock Spanishry, deep reserve of charm and mercurial mood changes it is a work still capable with small effort of winning friends. I wonder what would have happened if Lalo had just called it a concerto. By the way the Rhapsodie Norvégienne is also well worth seeking out. I remember it being coupled with the Martinon recording of the Namouna suites and making quite a splash. The Repin on Teldec is a richer recording but for the same price you can have Rosand and almost three times as much music as the Teldec offers.
There is some stunning playing on offer here: stunning both in the depths of expression and in spark-striking pyrotechnics. Recommended.
-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International