Nielsen: Violin Concerto, Op 33; Sibelius: Violin Concerto in D minor, Op 47; Two Serenades, Op 69

Reviewed on Thu 29 Oct, 2015

Santtu-Matias Rouvali (clearly a young conductor worth watching) directs intelligently; and Baiba Skride never lets technical ability obscure the musical argument.

Nielsen's classically influenced 1911 Violin Concerto may be of interest here, and it is certainly worth getting to know. Nielsen did not entirely succeed in integrating its many elements, and the result is an intriguing patchwork upon which the shadow of Brahms looms large; the Poco adagio third movement is very beautiful, and the cadenza in the rondo finale a revelation. The well-known Sibelius Concerto is a much more unified and effective piece, but it is the two tautly constructed Serenades, magnificently performed, which provide the finest listening moments. Santtu-Matias Rouvali (clearly a young conductor worth watching) directs intelligently and is particularly good at revealing Nielsen's wealth of orchestral detail (although it is a shame about the mannered ritardando at the end of the second movement, which adds nothing). Baiba Skride never lets technical ability obscure the musical argument – no mean feat in the complex and virtuosic Nielsen score.
–Chris Achenbach