SHOSTAKOVICH; GUBAIDULINA Violin Concertos
This is a unique coupling from a young Dutch violinist who entered the lists in 2005 with a fervent all-Elgar recital disc on Naxos and has since been making waves in the 20th-century concerto repertoire. The first Shostakovich and the Britten are special favourites but she has chosen a risky pairing here: two works which could scarcely be more closely associated with their original exponents.
The Gubaidulina turns out to be a live relay from Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, which means that its wispiest writing must be closely observed by the microphones. While the soloist is kept busy across its entire range, the orchestra (shorn of violins) functions chiefly at the extremes. Reinbert de Leeuw’s best efforts notwithstanding, the speculative, rhetorical character of the invention – lament versus affirmation – risks collapsing in on itself even before the concluding burst of applause torpedoes its would-be transcendent ending. The Shostakovich, an established masterpiece whose dash to the finishing line might seem to invite acclamation, is met by silence – this is a studio production. James Gaffigan secures disciplined, slightly stolid playing which may seem a little distanced to those listening through two speakers.
Lamsma acquits herself with distinction without making us forget either David Oistrakh or Anne-Sophie Mutter. A fairer comparison in the Shostakovich might be a contemporary such as Lisa Batiashvili; her muted, weightless deliberation in the opening Nocturne is more successful in projecting the darkness of the piece. If Lamsma’s extrovert engagement in the grief-stricken Passacaglia short-circuits some of its power, her finale provides a scintillating denouement. You may well respond more positively than I did to her gleaming tone and rapid vibrato.