ADAMS; KORNGOLD Violin Concertos
Ilya Gringolts plays with a ferocity that – in tandem with taut rhythmic control – adroitly avoids even the slightest hint of frenzy. And yet, for all its intensity and firmness of grip, there’s an equally riveting sense of spontaneity to his playing, too – particularly in Adams’s Concerto, with its intricately variegated, continuous solo part.
Gringolts phrases assertively and with such expressive agility that at times in the first movement it sounds as if the violin and orchestra are working independently yet in sync, like separate gears in a great machine. He imbues the slow, central Chaconne with an air of acute melancholy that’s deeply affecting, while creating an ever-shifting kaleidoscope of tone colour. Listen, for instance, at 4'15", where his sound suddenly becomes gritty and choked with emotion, then a few seconds later suggests a sweeter ache as the melody takes wing. Gringolts digs into the finale, too, and the resulting tonal bite adds a feeling of urgency to the propulsive excitement.
The Korngold Concerto is similarly convincing. Gringolts is rapturous where appropriate but finds an unusual element of playfulness that highlights the music’s quicksilver, Mendelssohnian qualities. He gives a healthy rhythmic snap to even the most luxuriant passages, as if to remind us that this is music with backbone as well as sentiment. I was particularly moved by the feeling of Mahlerian yearning at 6'30" in the opening Moderato nobile, and the unusually earnest insistence of the slow movement.
Conductor Julien Salemkour and the Copenhagen Phil support Gringolts with playing that’s correspondingly heartfelt yet clear-eyed in the Korngold, and the orchestra are even more persuasive, perhaps, under Santtu-Matias Rouvali in the tricky rhythms of the Adams. Strongly recommended.