Bruch, Mendelssohn & Beethoven - Quint
Avanti 1036-2 (2 discs)
Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor, Beethoven: Romances for violin & orchestra Opp. 40 & 50
Orquesta Sinfonica de Mineria
Carlos Miguel Prieto
Review by John Broggio - May 7, 2012
For the two main works here, usually so popular in combination, this is (only!) the second pairing to grace SACD with the added bonus of Beethoven's two Romance's for violin & orchestra (the other Bruch/Mendelssohn disc is Mendelssohn, Bruch: Violin Concertos - Midori).
Individually, recordings of these evergreen works are also somewhat surprisingly thin on the ground. Amongst the more recently recorded performances released on SACD: Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto, Symphony No. 3 - Swensen & Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 1 - Gluzman / Litton stand out; and for the Beethoven, it is probably worth considering Beethoven: Violin Concerto, Romances - Ferschtman / de Vriend too.
Phillippe Quint plays with a radiant, exuberant freshness that is quite disarming. In the Bruch Quint rises up with apparent caution before throwing it to the winds (figuratively and literally) in dramatic fashion! This sudden change of musical gear appears to catch the conductor and orchestra on the hop and there are moments where they nearly (but never quite) become disentangled from one another. Sadly, the orchestra appears to have been told to play in a most reserved manner that not only goes against the soloists conception but (more importantly) that of Bruch as well. The slow movement contains many moments of ardour from Quint that are genuinely touching and the finale is invested with the feeling that Quint is mastering this piece for the first time. Sadly the same cannot be said for the response of the Orquesta Sinfonica de Mineria under Carlos Miguel Prieto all too much of the time - phrasing is underplayed and so the drama is similarly lacking. A great shame.
The G major Romance of Beethoven separates the two concertos; here die-hard HIP fans will find Quint's response to the score a little too "old school" but here, at least, the conception of conductor and soloist appear to be similar although the same complaint about the reticence of the conductor and/or orchestra to engage with a fuller dynamic range still applies. Tempo choice & phrasing is mainstream and an unusually lush sound is heard - to some this will be joy to the ear, others less so.
The Avanti recording also deserves praise for the capturing of one of the most golden of violin sounds to grace SACD to date.
As in the Mendelssohn, Quint delivers a wonderfully refreshing account and (joy of joys) the orchestra is finally let of the leash in the tutti passages - this account is wholly recommendable (if not quite displacing others). As with the pianists that Avanti seem to find, Quint imbues everything he touches with a stunning technique, fine imagination that makes the commonly heard sound freshly minted. Despite taking the outer movements at fairly brisk tempos, Quint finds room to expand in the more rhapsodic sections of the work and (most importantly) link them naturally. The central, slow movement is imbued with a natural eloquence that belies Quint's relative youth.
As an "encore", the F major Romance of Beethoven is heard and shares much of the same characteristics of the G major work. One major disappointment is the tuning of the orchestra in the tutti passages - the strings and woodwind stubbornly think each other is in the wrong (I think the culprits are the wind but could be wrong). Why this was not picked up and corrected in the session time allocated is a mystery for it stands out like a sore thumb.
The recording captures the beautiful gossamer thread of Quint's sound to a tee but in addition to the orchestral response being somewhat monochrome, they are additionally placed quite backwards which does them or Quint no favours.
I hope to hear much more from this violinist but greater care needs to be exercised over the choice of conductor & orchestra - they stop this disc from being a "recommended enthusiastically", rather it's a "buy if convenient and not too fussed outside the solo line". A great shame.
Copyright © 2012 John Broggio and HRAudio.net