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Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936)
Violin Concerto in A minor Op. 82 [20:52]
Meditation in D major Op. 32 [4:15]
Mazurka-Oberek in D major [9:56]
Othmar SCHOECK (1886-1957)
Concerto quasi una fantasia in B flat major Op. 21 (1912) [34:06]
Chloë Hanslip (violin)
Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana/Alexander Vedernikov
rec. October 2011, Auditorio Stelio Molo, Lugano, Switzerland
The Romantic Violin Concerto, Vol. 14
HYPERION CDA67940 [69:09]

I wondered how long it would be before the Schoeck concerto caught the eye of Hyperion in their Romantic Violin Concerto series. It’s such a delightful work with a lambently expressive absorption in the singing heart of the instrument. That the music was written as a love offering by Swiss lieder and opera specialist, Othmar Schoeck to Stefi Geyer who gave him the cold shoulder dampens the ardour of the music not a whit. You can read the best account of that one-sidedly imploring encounter in Christopher Walton’s unique, frank and masterly intimate biography of Schoeck: Othmar Schoeck - Life and Works [ISBN: 9781580463003, University of Rochester Press]. You just have to hear this work - and likewise the Janis Ivanovs and August de Boeck violin concertos - further candidates for Hyperion’s questing heroes.
 
It takes the gifted insight of Hyperion to make a love-match between the Schoeck and the Glazunov and to have the well-founded confidence of investing both works with Chloe Hanslip’s great musicianship. This recording will do her reputation no harm at all; quite the opposite. After this we need to hear her and her co-conspirators in lush romanticism - Vedernikov and the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana - in the Korngold and the Tchaikovsky.
 
Listening to this Glazunov, a work I dearly love, was comparable in effect to Hyperion’s CD of the Shostakovich Piano Concerto No 2 by Marc-André Hamelin. It vies with well-loved reference recordings - in that case the Bernstein. Here Hanslip is to be counted very high, in the same exalted company as Jose Sivo, Rachel Barton-Pine, Sasha Rozhdestvensky and Julia Krasko. I have high hopes of one other version as yet unheard by me: Oscar Shumsky on Chandos (CHAN 8596). However this new one is nothing short of superb - spine-tingling stuff. The two Glazunov makeweights are lovingly done. They were not unknown to me but have, to my knowledge, never sounded so succulent. Interestingly the Mazurka-Oberek was not included in the indispensable Warner-Serebrier collection of Glazunov’s complete concertos though there was room for it.
 
As for the Schoeck it has not been recorded on a large-scale. Geyer can be heard on a Jecklin CD in a recording made in later life - it’s a vintage item. Other violinists who have championed the Concerto include Bettina Boller on Claves. Emmy Verhey’s MGB account has been around since 1991 and Ulf Hoelscher recorded it for Novalis. It’s a lovely work - in almost constant song; perhaps too much for its own good at times. It needs more stony drama but as a caressing love poem on a large-scale it never lets the listener down for all its transient echoes of Brahms and Mendelssohn meeting Delius. You can keep stylistic originality if I have to decry music of this emotional impact.
 
Hyperion have rarely misplaced their commissions to write liner-notes and their trust in Calum Macdonald is completely rewarded. The sound quality throughout is big, warm and close - a superb job has been done by Andrew Keener and Ben Connellan. The engineering forms a perfectly adroit complement to the demands of these sunset works in performances that seem faithfully to emote the composers’ intentions. In a word: glorious.
 
Rob Barnett 

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