Andres Cardenes / Ian Hobson / Sinfonia Varsovia

Brahms, Mendelssohn: Violin Concertos

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Cuban-born violinist Andres Cardenes is an artist who appears to have spent more time concertizing and teaching than on self-promotion, certainly in the realm of recordings. This is not necessarily a bad thing; it's a pleasant surprise to hear convincing recordings of two staples of the violin concerto repertoire -- Brahms and Mendelssohn -- made by an artist who lacks an extensive public image. Furthermore, his accompanying orchestra -- the Sinfonia Varsovia -- may be completely unfamiliar to most American listeners. Yet despite the decidedly symphonic nature of these concertos, the orchestra pulls out a robust and enthusiastic performance of both. There are times during thinner scoring, most notably the oboe solo in the second movement of Brahms, that Sinfonia Varsovia shows its weaker side compared to some of the "powerhouse" orchestras, but overall the playing is quite refined. Cardenes's playing is even more polished. His sound finds a balance between warmth and strength necessary to be heard over the dense orchestral accompaniment. As both an accomplished solo artist and orchestral player, Cardenes finds even more balance in his approach to his instrument. From his orchestral skills come an exceptionally clean technique, precise rhythms, and reliable intonation; his solo career delivers on depth of expression, engaging character, and deep musical understanding.

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