BBC Music Magazine

Frang bursts boundaries between two geniuses

John Allison admires the violinist’s unusual and imaginativ­e coupling of Bartók with Enescu


Vilde Frang’s players capture Enescu’s mystery and brilliance

It was Yehudi Menuhin, no stranger to great company, who declared Enescu and Bartók the two greatest musicians he ever met. The two are a surprising­ly infrequent pairing on disc, despite the naturalnes­s of putting them together – as proved by Vilde Frang in superlativ­e performanc­es. They had much else in common, beginning with the fact that they were both born in 1881 at the eastern and western extremitie­s of present-day Romania. Both the works featured here count as early pieces in their respective outputs, treading cosmopolit­an rather than overtly folksongin­fluenced paths.

The Octet is a genre that has attracted prodigies, and Mendelssoh­n’s famous work supplies the closest point of comparison. Enescu wrote his as a teenager, yet it remained one of his undisputed masterpiec­es, tautly constructe­d with many of its ideas stemming from the surging opening motif. Alongside Frang, the best-known players on this recording are Lawrence Power and Nicolas Altstaedt, but all eight perform with subtle flexibilit­y and as equals in capturing the mystery and brilliance of this music.

Far more frequently recorded, Bartók’s First Violin Concerto was once nearly lost to the world. Published a decade after the composer’s death, it was inspired by his violinist-muse Stefi Geyer – who broke off her relationsh­ip with Bartók but remained custodian of the unpublishe­d manuscript for the rest of her life. Frang rises to its passionate lyricism and dazzles in partnershi­p with Mikko Franck and the Orchestre Philharmon­ique de Radio France. PERFORMANC­E ★★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★★

Hear extracts from this recording and the rest of this month’s choices on the BBC Music Magazine website at

 ??  ?? Top to tail artist: Vilde Frang demonstrat­es her versatilit­y
Top to tail artist: Vilde Frang demonstrat­es her versatilit­y
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