Tasmin Little / Andrew Davis

Elgar: Violin Concerto; Interlude from The Crown of India & Polonia

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At once a virtuosic tour de force and an outpouring of romantic feelings, Elgar's Violin Concerto is one of the titan concertos of the repertoire. At about 50 minutes in total length, it was conceived of on a scale even greater than Dvorák or Brahms before him, but retains the same symphonic characteristics and importance of the orchestral accompaniment. The concerto was written with input from Fritz Kreisler and was later dedicated to the legendary violinist; the technical demands Elgar places on the soloist are at times extreme. Violinist Tasmin Little proves that these challenges are not insurmountable, however. Joined by Andrew Davis and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Little puts forth an exemplary performance filled with beautiful, singing legato lines; impeccable intonation; superb bow technique; and a dazzlingly nimble left hand. She captures the vacillations between bravura and lyricism without missing a step. Davis and the RSNO respond in kind with a rich, powerful orchestral backdrop. Too powerful, perhaps. The solo violin's recorded level is quite low compared to the orchestra and listeners will find themselves having to adjust their volume as the music shifts from solo to tutti. Little's commanding performance is worth it, though. The disc also includes a rare additional recording of Elgar's alternate cadenza accompanied by harp as well as the Interlude from The Crown of India and the symphonic prelude Polonia.

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