Dvorak Violin Concerto - The Sunday Herald

Joseph Swensen continues his dual role of solo violinist and conductor on this latest disc in the excellent series of Scottish Chamber Orchestra recordings from Linn. As with previous Mendelssohn, Brahms and Prokofiev releases, the violin concerto is the main item, while the rest of the programme introduces not-so-frequently performed works by the same composer.

Swensen brings a thoughtful, considered artistry to the richly lyrical Concerto in A minor. His unforced approach, the beauty of his tone and wonderfully eloquent phrasing lead a sparkling first movement to the meditative opening bars of the slow movement and on to a finale which is dazzling in its Slavonic brilliance. The SCO responds to its Conductor Emeritus with some inspired playing to complete a thrilling performance. The five-movement Czech Suite Op 30, which follows is Dvorak in glorious national vein.

Inventive and charming, with Bohemian dance rhythms and melodies, this is a delightful piece to which Swensen brings a warm and relaxed rustic appeal. Two rarely heard little beauties complete this very satisfying performance: Nocturne For Strings and the first Waltz from Two Waltzes, both of which receive the loving and moving attentions of the SCO strings.

15 January 2006