Chloë Hanslip / Martyn Brabbins

Vieuxtemps: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2; Greeting to America

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Vieuxtemps: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2; Greeting to America Review

by James Manheim

British violinist Chloë Hanslip has revived some terrific Romantic virtuoso repertory, and she continues her winning ways with this trio of pieces by Henri Vieuxtemps, whose name is anglicized to Henry here for no very good reason. Vieuxtemps was widely hailed in the 1830s and 1840s as the successor to Paganini, but he diverged from the Italian master by making an effort to teach himself composition, ultimately taking lessons from Anton Reicha and Schubert's teacher Simon Sechter. His two violin concertos, here presented in publication order but reverse chronological order, are structurally elaborate affairs that avoid pure virtuosic display. Beethoven is the overall model. Even the first movement of the early Violin Concerto in F sharp minor, Op. 19, gives the violin soloist a sort of introduction to its main theme, and the marriage of violin and orchestra in the first movement of the Violin Concerto No. 1 in E major, Op. 10, is quite subtle. Even the Greeting to America, Op. 56, composed for Vieuxtemps' tour of the New World in 1843 and 1844, is artful for a crowd-pleaser; the quotation from The Star-Spangled Banner appears as in a sort of contrapuntal mist at first, and the tune's final combination with Yankee Doodle is quite ingenious. Hanslip renders all this with a good deal of flair and sensitivity, and she receives competent support from the Royal Flemish Philharmonic under Martyn Brabbins. Recommended for any lover of the Romantic concerto, despite pedestrian sound.

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