Stephen Goss

BBC Music Magazine - - Reviews -

The­o­rbo Con­certo

Matthew Wadsworth (the­o­rbo); Scot­tish Cham­ber Or­ches­tra/ Benjamin Mar­quise Gil­more Deux-elles DXL1182 (dig­i­tal-only re­lease) 19:23 mins

The world’s

‘first con­certo for the­o­rbo’ is unashamedl­y clever. Lis­ten with­out the con­tex­tual notes and you ex­pe­ri­ence a sen­sory whirl­wind in which the the­o­rbo is cat­a­pulted into the present, rein­vent­ing it­self with a range of ex­tended tech­niques and, un­der Matthew Wadsworth’s deft fin­gers, solois­tic ef­fects it never knew it was ca­pa­ble of. Be­tween the Scot­tish Cham­ber Or­ches­tra’s tightly-ex­e­cuted themes that com­bine a whiff of El­gar and Shostakovi­ch with Bach and Blues, Wadsworth shim­mers, jos­tles, and dances – hold­ing his own in this new ter­ri­tory. The age-old chal­lenge of its au­di­bil­ity not only re­lies on care­ful am­pli­fi­ca­tion, but also fu­els Goss’s trade­mark sud­den gear changes and stark con­trasts.

Back to the top with ref­er­ence to the pro­gramme notes this time and a whole new in­tri­cately-de­signed world emerges. With David Mitchell’s Cloud At­las as in­spi­ra­tion, the four move­ments ‘Pre­lude’, ‘Scherzo’, ‘Pas­sacaglia’, and ‘Fi­nale’ not only flit be­tween time and place but in­ter­weave vari­a­tions on a theme along­side a waltz, si­cil­iana, taran­tella, Mex­i­can hua­pango, and both ground and bo­ogy-woo­gie bass lines. Three in­ter­lac­ing in­ter­ludes – in which Wadsworth (plus dou­ble bass) ex­pertly ac­com­pany vi­o­lin, vi­ola, and cello in turn – give mo­ments of re­pose and re­mind us of the the­o­rbo’s res­o­nant roots be­fore its next wild ad­ven­ture.

Han­nah French

PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★

RECORD­ING ★★★★★

Prokofiev

Pi­ano Con­cer­tos Nos 1, 3 & 4

Vadym Kholo­denko (pi­ano);

Fort Worth Sym­phony Or­ches­tra/ Miguel Harth-bedoya

Har­mo­nia Mundi HMM 907632

70:33 mins

Per­son­al­ity, thought Stravin­sky, was Prokofiev's strong­est qual­ity. Vadym Kholo­denko, 14th Van Cliburn Com­pe­ti­tion gold medal­list, has plenty of it, al­beit not close to what we know of the com­poser’s cheek as pi­anist. Though his play­ing is al­ways lu­cid, never muddy, Kholo­denko looks at these three works through late-ro­man­tic eyes in the lyric pas­sages. I like his thought­ful­ness in the usu­ally skit­tish theme to which the First Pi­ano Con­certo set­tles, af­ter a less than Puck­ish early ca­denza; Kholo­denko then takes the moon­shine of what was early on la­belled a ‘foot­bal­lish’ con­certo – though, now, we now see it as a com­pli­ment, Prokofiev must have taken it dis­parag­ingly. The Fourth is by con­trast more gym­nas­tic; it was com­mis­sioned, but never played, by Paul Wittgen­stein – who had lost his right arm in the First World War. The book­let note should have taken in more up-to-date re­search on the sub­ject con­cern­ing Wittgen­stein's at­ti­tude to a work he never played.

Kholo­denko keeps his bal­ance here on the high wire while the or­ches­tral lines, well shaped by ★arth-bedoya, do most of the singing. If the slow move­ment is not to seem doo­dly, though, it needs more of a for­ward-mov­ing line through it. Sound for these two works is close and rather dry, not un­suit­able for the na­ture of the pieces; the Third Con­certo, recorded nearly two years later, sets the or­ches­tra some way be­hind the soloist. Again, the scin­til­lat­ing pas­sages sound a bit straight, es­pe­cially along­side such char­ac­ters as Si­mon Trp eski and Yuja Wang; Kholo­denko’s claim to dis­tinc­tion lies in the po­etry of the many in­tro­spec­tive mo­ments. David Nice PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★ RECORD­ING ★★★

Nim­ble fin­gered: Matthew Wadsworth daz­zles on the the­o­rbo

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