Thomas Gould / Sinfonietta Riga

Thomas Gould: Live in Riga

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The British violinist Thomas Gould is a leading candidate to become the successor to Nigel Kennedy, telegenic and communicative with crowds even if not quite so outré. Here he tackles a pair of repertory standards, with much the same result that Kennedy has achieved when he has done such things: the performances are fully competent, and you're glad to see the music done by someone who will pull in the crowds even if it doesn't always knock your socks off. Gould's biggest strength, perhaps oddly for someone who makes his way on charisma, lies in his interaction with the musicians around him. In this live recording with the Sinfonietta Riga, one of the wonderful small ensembles arising in the Baltic countries after the example of Kremerata Baltica, Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending unfolds as if in a single, rather ecstatic gesture from soloist and orchestra together. There are dozens of recordings of this work on the market, but this one makes its mark. The Beethoven Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61, also has its virtues: transparency and a melodic quality in place of trying to rip the strings out of the violin. Gould adds a novelty: he uses Beethoven's own cadenzas for the work, the ones written for the piano transcription Beethoven himself made. The transition back to the violin is not entirely seamless, but it's an intriguing idea. Recommended especially for fans of this rising star.

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