Magazine article Gramophone

Bartok: Violin Concerto No 2

Magazine article Gramophone

Bartok: Violin Concerto No 2

Article excerpt

Bartok

Violin Concerto No 2, Sz112 (a). Concerto for Orchestra, Sz116 (a) Augustin Dumay vn Montreal Symphony Orchestra / Kent Nagano Onyx (F) ONYX4138 (82' * DDD) Recorded live at the Maison de la Musique, Montreal, January 14 & 16, 2015

Although I would hesitate to grant this flexible and generally well-recorded live performance of the Second Violin Concerto top-of-league status, I enjoyed it enormously, principally because it harks back to the wholesomely romantic approaches of Stern with Bernstein (Sony) and Menuhin with Dorati (Warner or Mercury) and their like. Augustin Dumay digs lustily into the concerto's opening and Kent Nagano's big-boned response sings the same language, then, come the second set (at around 2'54"), Dumay eases the pace above a quietly murmuring accompaniment. The effect is of unexpected calmness, disorientation almost, before brass choirs sound the alarm (at 4'08"). The first movement proceeds along similar lines for the duration, never hurrying unduly and with a mixture of reverie and physical abandon (eg at 8'37", where the accelerating tutti makes a great impact).

At the start of the Andante tranquillo second movement both soloist and conductor raise a gentle curtain on a world of fairy-tale, Dumay, a superb player, suggesting infinite sadness, Nagano's strings suggesting a tender embrace. At bar 42 (4'24" here) some violinists lengthen the crotchet to avoid a feeling of abruptness (Menuhin, Mullova, Gil Shaham etc). Zoltan Szekely didn't at the 1938 premiere (Decca); neither did Andre Gertler (Supraphon), and nor does Dumay here. …

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