Oddly paired double bill

Dvořák and Gershwin on one volume? It most certainly is.

Composer: Dvořák, Gershwin
Repertoire: Violin Concerto (Dvořák); An American in Paris (Gershwin)

Artist: Liza Ferschtman (vln), Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra/Mario Venzago
Rating: 3/5

Genre: Orchestral

Label: Challenge Classics CC72530

The Music: Dvořák’s Violin Concerto finds the composer in his most attractive, tuneful, Bohemian form. Gershwin’s portrait of 1920s Paris is a riot of jazz-influenced rhythm and invention. What’s the connection? No, I don’t get it either. 

The Performance: As with so many of today’s generation of technically supercharged soloists, Russian-born violinist Liza Ferschtman plays with astonishing command, accuracy and firepower (there really isn’t a flaw anywhere), and brings plenty of fiery passion to one lyrical passage after another. The dance-like, fresh-air quality that makes Dvořák’s style so appealing is in rather shorter supply. Venzago and the orchestra deliver deft, immaculate, one-size-fits-all performances both of the concerto’s accompaniment and of the Gershwin – which means that this sounds more under-characterised than it should. 

The Verdict: A strange non-mix of musical styles, for all the fluent expertise on display. Ferschtman’s impressive playing is the main attraction. 

Want More? More Dvořák? Try his evergreen Cello Concerto, performed by Tomáš Jamník and the Czech Philharmonic (Supraphon,
SU 40342). More Gershwin? The Piano Concerto and Rhapsody in Blue, played by Stefano Bollani and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Riccardo Chailly (Decca Classics, 478 2739) is essential listening.


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