Three decades separate the Borgström and Shostakovich concertos for violin and orchestra, representatives of two irreconcilable, if not contradictory, worlds admirably defended on the BIS label.
Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing (born 1990), an outstanding artist with a warm tone, accurate and precise playing, has a very honorable career. Her subtle understanding of music is regularly emphasized. This recording, if necessary, furnishes us with a new proof.
The concerto for violin in G major by his compatriot Hjalmar Borgström (1864-1925), a contemporary of Carl Nielsen, returns to the light. He deserves it amply. The fame of this pupil from Leipzig (where he traveled in 1887), who was an ardent defender of German orchestral music and program music, was eclipsed by the eruption of the new modernity emerging around the First World War. His lack of enthusiasm for Norwegian musical nationalism and its icon Edvard Grieg surely contributed to his marginalization. However, the Kristiania Concerto, which was premiered in 1914, was well received because of its rich and abundant melodic writing, passionate, lyrical, rhapsodic, and some splendidly orchestrated passages. In the Adagio there are a few repetitive steps that are strikingly reminiscent of a section of Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto (1941)!
Shostakovich’s Concerto for Violin No. 1 in A minor (1948, revised in 1955), written for David Oistrakh and valiantly defended by him (and recorded twice), transports us to another world, fascinating, exuberant and dark, alternately marked by harshness, caricatural dancing and insistent hammering, a concealed confession of the true state of mind of a rebellious and wounded creator. Eldbjørg Hemsing gives the second movement, the Scherzo, a bewitching and hypnotic interpretation, unforgettable. The other three movements, in the pure style of the Russian musician, place this perfectly controlled version at the level of the greatest recordings (David Oistrach, Maxime Shostakovich, EMI, 1972, Lydia Mordkovich, Neeme Jarvi, Chandos, 1989, Yefim Bronfman, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Sony, 2003).
The Vienna Symphony, conducted by the rigorous and experienced Estonian Olari Elts (born in 1971), shares the outstanding merits and contributes to making this recording a subject of legitimate lust and curiosity.