Tanja Becker-Bender / Garry Walker / BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

The Romantic Violin Concerto Vol. 16: Busoni, Strauss

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Much of the Romantic Violin Concerto series on the Hyperion label has focused on forgotten composers, but the present release involves little-known concertos by major composers. The Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 8, by Richard Strauss was written when the composer was 17 and is a competent if rather overlong essay in the virtuoso German tradition running back to Ludwig Spohr. Ferruccio Busoni's Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35a, although Busoni was in his thirties when the work was premiered in 1897, might also be called an early work; the characteristic influences from Bach and Liszt (and the mixture of the two) are not yet present. The concerto follows the D major key of the Beethoven and Brahms concertos, and has ambitions to supplant them. It can't live up to those, but it's full of good tunes that are both smoothly and enthusiastically rendered by German violinist Tanja Becker-Bender, with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Garry Walker. Those looking for traces of the mature Busoni and Strauss will find them in these works, although not in abundance. The transcription of the Benedictus from Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, Op. 123, recorded here for the first time, looks toward the future more than the other two pieces and is a nice find.

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