Szymanowski: Violin Concerto No 1, Op 35; Violin Concerto No 2, Op 61; Karlowicz: Violin Concerto in A major, Op 8

Reviewed on Wed 11 Oct, 2017

Ardent support from the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Edward Gardner perfectly frames Tasmin Little's exquisitely manicured lyricism and joyful flights of fancy in the exuberantly realised finale of Karlowicz's concerto.

Here’s a value-for-money coupling of three contrasting Polish violin concertos from the first half of the last century in the estimable hands of Tasmin Little. With its unabashed debt to Tchaikovsky and late-Romantic effusiveness, the earliest, Mieczysław Karlowicz’s from 1902, is a gift to Little. Ardent support from the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Edward Gardner perfectly frames her exquisitely manicured lyricism and joyful flights of fancy in the exuberantly realised finale. She’s even more striking in the two Szymanowski concertos, conjuring the heady otherness and noticeably neurotic qualities of the First (1916) with elegantly elasticated playing marked by plentiful but judiciously executed vibrato and telling shifts in dynamics. No less characterful is her sweetening of the darker, denser textures of the Second (1933) and her nimbly poised, delicately nuanced way with melodies that smack of rough-hewn rusticity before fracturing into moments of crepuscular introspection. The SACD recording lends Chandos’s customarily excellent sound a vivid immediacy.
–Michael Quinn