DVOŘÁK Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (Hemsing)
Try this disc in reverse order. Stephan Koncz has arranged Josef Suk’s Liebeslied for violin and orchestra, and it’s a seductive introduction to the disc’s strengths: spotlighting the gleaming, high-calorie tone and expressive phrasing of the young Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing against swathes of deep orchestral velvet from the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra under Alan Buribayev. This is Hemsing’s second CD; and while David Gutman, reviewing the first (5/18), didn’t feel that her sound was quite right for Shostakovich, he conceded that it was ‘ideally suited to big-hearted Romantic fare’.
Well, here it is, and if that Liebeslied doesn’t go straight on to Classic FM’s late night rotation, I don’t know what will. Next, try Suk’s splendid G minor Fantasy, a single-movement concerto by any other name. Buribayev launches it in swashbuckling style amid a spray of cymbals and triangle. Hemsing matches him with a big, exuberant, heart-on-sleeve performance in which the fact that the recording places her unavoidably front and centre – and the slight muzziness of the orchestral sound that comes as a consequence of that – is offset by the ebullience and tautness of the overall reading.
So that’s basically what you’re getting here: big, upfront readings with undeniably attractive solo playing supported by extrovert conducting and an orchestra which, while responsive, is very much a secondary part of the sonic picture. Now apply that over the 32 minutes of Dvořák’s Concerto. It sounds fine; the spirit of everyone present is certainly willing, and there’s an enjoyable tingle to the way Hemsing points the finale’s furiant rhythms. A polished and confident performance. But now consider that Christian Tetzlaff has recently recorded this same basic coupling and … well, you see the problem.