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Rodolphe KREUTZER (1766 – 1831)
Violin Concerto No. 9 in E minor (1802) [22:27]
Violin Concerto No. 13 in D (1803) [24:49]
Variations on the aria from La Molinera: ‘Nel cor piu non mi sento’  [7:56]
Song of the peasant of the Canigou, Montagnas Regaladas [8:41]
Saskia Lethiec (violin)
Ensemble Instrumental du Conservatoire de Versailles
Orquestra do Norte, Porto/Jose Ferreira Lobo
rec. details not given. DDD
TALENT DOM 2911 126 [60:04]

Experience Classicsonline


Rodolphe Kreutzer is remembered for two reasons – he was one of the founding fathers of the modern school of violin playing and as the dedicatee of the Sonata by Beethoven which bears his name. He must have been some player for these works are no easy stroll in the park and as a composer he is fully in control of his material knowing what to do with it, and where he was going.

The E minor Concerto begins in a most dramatic and forthright manner, and Kreutzer never allows himself to waver from the path he has chosen. It's exciting and exacting stuff and it's followed by a tender slow movement named Romance which gives one some rest before the immense high spirits of the finale. If the first movement is Beethovenian then this light-earted finale is Mozart at his joyous best, but with a serious conclusion. This is a real find, it's not a masterpiece, and it won't knock certain concertos from their rightful place in the standard repertoire but who wouldn't want to hear such a well conceived and tuneful piece?

As befits a work in D major the 13th Concerto is a grand affair, very serious and purposeful; even both themes of the first movement have the same hauteur about them; there is little contrast. There is much bravura writing in the first movement and lots of interaction between soloist and orchestra. The central adagio is of operatic aria dimensions – a big song for a full voiced soloist – which doesn't outstay its welcome. The finale is a jaunty dance, with lovely interjections from the soloist, it's absolutely delightful, and thoroughly entertaining. The ghost of Mozart hovers over both pieces but they are none the worse for that – there are some very enjoyable things and what is most welcome is that here are two works which entertain and show really good humour. Neither work comes anywhere near Beethoven or Mozart in content but nonetheless they work in their own way and should be heard.

The Variations on Nel cor piu non mi sento, and Song of the peasant, both for violin and ensemble, are more obviously virtuoso vehicles rather than serious musical compositions, and after the Concertos they are a bit of a let down, but there is nothing wrong in letting your hair down after the serious business is over.

Saskia Lethiec is a sweet-toned soloist who obviously feels sympathy for these works and gives excellently committed and persuasive performances of the music. Jose Ferreira Lobo directs straightforward performances from his orchestra, which are somewhat lack lustre when compared to our soloist, but they do the business, as they say, and give a good enough show for us to know what the music is about. In the smaller pieces the Ensemble Instrumental du Conservatoire de Versailles give discreet support. The recording is good, if a trifle thick in the middle textures, but it has a good balance between soloist and band.  The mangled English in the booklet is a joy – for instance, when listening to the music I never realised that the finale of the 9th Concerto, "...presents an almost nostalgic refrain, with its tied groupettos, while the couplets, in turn staccato and dotted, lightened by the major mode, circling around great intervals or increasing the virtuosity by formibably–virtuoso sextolets, bring a more solar lighting.". Now I know better. This disk is worth investigating for the sake of two very interesting and enjoyable concertos, and some fine fiddling.

Bob Briggs






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