BARTÓK Divertimento GHEDINI Violin Concerto
This interesting programme offers a revealing glimpse at how the Baroque concerto grosso form, or something very like it, was revisited in the 20th century. The final item, Hindemith’s Trauermusik, was written the day after King George V’s death (the composer was in London at the time); here the viola player Francesco Fiore gives a performance full of feeling, and while I Solisti Aquilana might not offer quite the last word in refined execution, they provide a worthy accompaniment.
The violas also come off well in the finale of the programme’s undoubted masterpiece, Bartók’s roughly contemporaneous Divertimento, though there’s some coarse-grained playing elsewhere and comparing the opening Allegro non troppo with, say, recordings conducted by Zoltán Kocsis (Hungaroton), Iván Fischer (Decca) or Rudolf Barshai (Decca Eloquence) helps identify the main ingredient missing here, namely rustic energy. Still, I liked the sense of hushed expectation that Flavio Emilio Scogna achieves in the Molto adagio second movement and he directs well-judged performances of the other two works programmed.
Ghedini’s Violin Concerto (1947) opens in a belligerent mood, Daniele Orlando goading his sparring partners on with plenty of spark. The second-movement Andante fiorito is pleasingly whimsical; there’s a dynamic Rondo, a heartfelt Adagio and a finale that opens in Jaws mode. Nino Rota’s Concerto for Strings (1964 65) opens lyrically, proceeds to a scherzo that sounds as if based on one of Shostakovich’s ballet suites; then Rota treats us to a quasi-Bachian ‘aria’ and a very filmic-sounding finale. Scogna’s performance is roughly on a par with Paolo Pessina’s for Naxos (8 570194), maybe rather heavier on its feet. The recording quality throughout matches the playing, thoroughly competent if nothing out of the ordinary.