Brahms Violin Concerto - Daily Telegraph

This makes a refreshing change from the usual larger-than-life Brahms Violin Concerto recordings. There are rewards to be had from a performance by a chamber orchestra, rather than a full-blown symphony orchestra, and from the fact that the soloist also directs from the violin. For one thing, there is a sense of the solo violin emerging from the body of the orchestra.

You might think that it would stifle flexibility and rubato, but, thanks no doubt to the extent of rehearsal and to the long-established rapport between Swensen and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, there is a litheness and elasticity to the performance that would be difficult to obtain in other circumstances.

The Usher Hall acoustics, too, add their own qualities. Maybe Swensen is not quite as searching as some of the greats of the past in this work, but he nonetheless provides a stimulating experience. The Hungarian-style rondo finale leads neatly into a selection of 14 of Brahms's 21 Hungarian Dances in lively and zest-filled performances.

Daily Telegraph
28 June 2004