Sibelius, Glazunov: Violin Concertos

Esther Yoo / Vladimir Ashkenazy / Philharmonia Orchestra

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Sibelius, Glazunov: Violin Concertos Review

by Blair Sanderson

Esther Yoo's debut album on Deutsche Grammophon offers compelling performances of Alexander Glazunov's seldom performed Violin Concerto in A minor and Jean Sibelius' popular Violin Concerto in D minor, an unusual pairing that works by way of contrasts. The Glazunov concerto is a lyrical vehicle in which Yoo demonstrates her ability to play long, soulful lines and draw out extraordinarily rich tone colors, both essential in late Romantic music, while Sibelius' modern work is quite angular and austere in tone, emphasizing technical virtuosity over expressive depth or surface beauty. Yoo presents both concertos convincingly, exuding real warmth and passion throughout the Glazunov, and reserving a cooler, almost analytical approach for Sibelius' music. The support provided by Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Philharmonia Orchestra corresponds appropriately, so the tone that Yoo establishes for each concerto is reflected in the accompaniment, and played with flawless execution and great feeling. To round out the disc, Sibelius' limpid Suite for violin and string orchestra and the elegant Grand Adagio from Glazunov's ballet Raymonda are included, so the intensity of the first part of the program is balanced by these lighter treats. This is a delightful premiere album, and Yoo's stirring performances are sure to win many admirers.

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