Stunning Double Bill

An impressive pairing of composers and material with young talent and a major label.

Composer: Shostakovich, Janácˇek
Repertoire: Violin Concerto No.1, Violin Concerto ‘The Wandering of a Little Soul’
Artists: Baiba Skride, Munich Philharmonic/Mikko Franck, Berlin RSO/Marek Janowski
Rating: 5/5

Genre: Orchestral
Label: Sony Classical 82876 73714-2

Young starry instrumentalists signed to major labels aren’t supposed to make CDs that critics approve of, but thankfully Riga-born violinist Baiba Skride rewrites the rule book. Skride brings rare emotional gravitas to the mournful opening of Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto – as her lines unfold with improvisational freedom, it’s obvious that she’s fully distilled Shostakovich’s demanding score. Pairing that with the rarely heard Janácˇ ek Violin Concerto, reconstructed after the composer’s death, is another brave move to be commended. Janácˇ ek’s earthy and passionate writing suits Skride’s brand of musical intelligence, and the Berlin RSO pushes the composer’s sonorous writing and inscrutable rhythms to the max.