Szymanowski: Violin Concerto No 1, Op 35; Violin Concerto No 2, Op 61; Myths, Op 30

Reviewed on Fri 19 Sep, 2014

We are not short of superlative versions of this entrancing repertoire. In the concertos both the Zehetmair/Rattle and Zimmermann/Wit partnerships for, respectively, EMI (now Warner) Classics and Sony Classical immediately spring to mind, while Kaja Danczowska's inspirationally poetic and miraculously assured DG recording of the Myths with Krystian Zimerman has long been a desert-island disc for this writer. Now comes the golden-toned Latvian virtuoso Baiba Skride, whose thrillingly dedicated advocacy of the First Concerto (1916) displays a bomb-proof technical prowess, subtlety of timbre and pantheistic wonder that fits Szymanowski's giddily sensuous and illimitably refined inspiration like a glove. Rest assured, her reading of the leaner but no less masterly Second (1932), with its bracing stylistic nods towards Polish folk song and dance, is just as riveting. What's more, Vasily Petrenko partners with rapt sympathy and draws outstandingly alert and detailed playing from the Oslo PO. Skride's younger sister, Lauma, provides delectably supple support in the intoxicating Myths (1915), whose headily beautiful opener, 'The Fountain of Arethusa', will leave you wanting more, I promise! This classy Orfeo release can be urgently recommended.
–Andrew Achenbach