Violin Concerto and Sonata No 1
Vadim Gluzman v, Angela Yoffe p, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, James Gaffigan
BIS BIS2172 (SACD)
Vadim Gluzman has done some fine work on the Bis label – his Korngold is one of my favourites – so I am delighted he has set down his Brahms Concerto as sampled by Australian audiences last year. As a Ukranian-born Israeli it’s no surprise where his stylistic DNA can be traced back to, and it’s fitting that he plays the legendary “Auer” Strad. His sound has the bear-hug warmth of the Russian players kept in check with a degree of classical restraint; think of Oistrakh cut with Szeryng. His secure technique allows every phrase to sing with carefully graded vibrato and colour yet never draws attention to itself – no mannerisms to mar the line – the art that conceals art.
The orchestral contribution is in the modern clean-cut style with taut rhythms driving forward, but I do wish Gaffigan had relaxed a little in the Adagio – it lacks that certain magic. The finale has a nice snap but might also have had a little more space to manoeuvre as the final pay off doesn’t quite satisfy.
Despite quibbles, this is an honest performance of great integrity and would be an ideal library reference for students. Likewise the violin sonata, a lovely relaxed reading with no empty posturing. His self-effacing partner Angela Yoffe carefully grades Brahms’ fulsome piano writing and never makes an ugly sound, although I wish she would step into to the limelight a little more. She does so for the Scherzo from the F-A-E Sonata, which provides a satisfying encore.