Szymanowski & Dvorak: Violin Concertos – Arabella Steinbacher, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Marek Janowski (2009) [PentaToneMusic FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

Szymanowski & Dvorak – Violin Concertos – Arabella Steinbacher, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Marek Janowski (2009)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz | Time – 01:11:43 minutes | 1,24 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: |  © PentaTone Classics
Recorded: Haus des Rundfunks, Berlin, 5/2009

Would you please write me a violin concerto? A truly original one, full of melodies and written for good violinists? Please, drop me a line!”
These words in a letter from the publisher Simrock to , dated January 27, 1879, resulted in the composition of his Violin Concerto in A minor. Although Dvorák concluded the work towards the end of the summer of 1879, after completing his exceedingly successful Slavonic Dances, a further four years would pass before the violin concerto finally appeared in print and actually received its première. With his reference to “good violinists”, Simrock (ever on the lookout for a good business deal) prob- ably had one person in particular in mind: Joseph Joachim. Two years previously, this violinist – who nowadays would enjoy the status of a megastar – had “launched” the violin concerto written by Johannes Brahms, following a period of intensive collaboration with the composer. So it seemed only logical that Dvorák – who was now also gaining an international reputation – would write the next concerto specifically for the famous virtuoso. During the summer, Dvorák and Joachim spent some “pleasant and delightful moments” together in Berlin. It seemed as if nothing would stand in the way of a rewarding and steady collaboration. Thus in the autumn of 1879, Joachim received the manuscript of the concerto. However, apart from his thanks for the dedication, his reaction was mainly to send back a list of requests for massive changes in both the formal structure of the work and the solo violin part. After meeting personally with him in April 1880, Dvorák decided to fundamentally revise the work, which he concluded the following May.

Despite the relatively short time since the dawn of her international career, which began in 2004, violinist Arabella Steinbacher is already leaving a significant mark on the concert stages and recording studios of the world by this 2009 recording. She is rapidly proving herself to be an extremely mature, well-developed artist capable of handling the most musically sophisticated compositions in her repertoire. Such is certainly the case with the present performance of Karol Szymanowski’s intense, gripping First Concerto. Few violinists tackle this marvelous concerto, but Steinbacher approaches it with every bit as much reverence as is typically given to concertos of Shostakovich or Bartók. What’s more, her clear understanding of and unity with the score capture the attention of listeners from the first bar to the last. Her phenomenal technique allows her to focus on maintaining lines, coloring each note, and making sense of Szymanowski’s melodic language. The PentaTone album continues with an equally engaging performance of the Dvorák Violin Concerto. Although this concerto is performed with great frequency, Steinbacher’s interpretation is energetic and driven, robust without being overly sentimental, and powerful without being forced. Marek Janowski leads the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin in masterful, restrained accompaniments and rich, enthusiastic tuttis. PentaTone’s sound, particularly for those listening in 5.1-channel surround sound, is warm, present, and clear. –AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell

Karol Szymanowski (1882 – 1937)
Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 35 (1916)
1 Vivace assai 12. 33
2 Vivace scherzando 8. 35
3 Cadenza (by Pawel Kochański) 1. 55
4 Allegro moderato 3. 02
Antonin Dvořák (1841 – 1904)
Romance for Violin and Orchestra in F minor, Op. 11 (1873 – 1879)
5 Andante con moto 11. 44
Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53 (1880, rev. 1882)
6 Allegro ma non troppo 11. 51
7 Adagio ma non troppo 10. 30
8 Finale – Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo 11. 12

Arabella Steinbacher, violin
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin
Marek Janowski, conductor