DVOŘÁK; GLAZUNOV Violin Concertos
Somewhere in this Somm release is a more characterful one struggling to get out. The soloist, the Greek violinist Efi Christodoulou, plays with a sweet tone. And she has done well to avoid the over-crowded corners of the repertoire. Her choices – Sibelius’s little known Humoresques, sandwiched between violin concertos by Glazunov and Dvořák – offer plenty of scope for making a distinctive mark. If only she always remembered to take advantage of it.
When she does, the results are prepossessing, as in the finale of the Glazunov, where there’s a palpable sense of joy in the music-making. As for the rest, there are grace and sweetness in spades, befitting the old-school charm of this too rarely heard concerto. But the terrain could do with more peaks and troughs, along with a little more loving care in the intonation department. For livewire intensity and detail, this reading has nothing on Julia Fischer’s, let alone Maxim Vengerov’s. Occasionally Christodoulou is even outmatched by the orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony, who, under John Carewe, consistently give their all.
In the Dvořák, Christodoulou fares better. Here we’ll find none of the over-indulgence favoured by, say, Anne-Sophie Mutter (DG, 11/13). Instead we’re given a straightforward interpretation, not wildly imaginative but better suited to this concerto’s childlike honesty. What emerges is a finale full of artless exuberance and a slow movement that lilts as gently as a lullaby. But the most subtle playing is reserved for Sibelius’s Humoresques, pieces far more rich and substantial than their short running times would suggest. They certainly bring out good things in Christodoulou, who revels in their half-lights and soft shades of grey.