J.Brahms (B.Bartók), Violin Concerto, 4 Hungarian Dances (Rhapsodies for Violin and Piano)
Leonidas Kavakos (Péter Nagy)
R.Chailly / Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
Varnish and Leather
Riccardo Chailly gets more audacious and interesting with age. Where other conductors become increasingly mellow and predictably bland, Chailly (whose interpretations started out on the tepid side) is experiencing a Benjamin Button phase and delivers darkly varnished boldness. That’s true for his latest Mahler, it’s true for his recent Beethoven Symphonies, and it’s also true for this new release of the Brahms Violin Concerto in which he collaborates with Leonidas Kavakos. Kavakos, at his best capable of a wonderful mix of delicacy and a fierce leathery tone, is in fact in top form and manages tenderness while avoiding sweetness all awhile Chailly indulges in the wonderful sound of his Leipzig Orchestra. Closing the recital with a few of Brahms’ Hungarian Dances makes sense, seeing how the Concerto’s finale is full of allusions to them and the Bartók Rhapsodies for Violin and Piano (with Péter Nagy) cleanse the palate in between. No lids get blown of one’s perceptions of the Brahms concerto, but the artistry and the combination of their sound—recorded with a gutsy amount of natural reverb—is so damn beautiful, it makes this well worth adding atop your pile of Brahms Violin Concertos. The disc’s closing with Brahms’ Hungarian Dances alludes to the Concerto’s finale while the Bartók Rhapsodies for Violin and Piano (with Péter Nagy) cleanse the palate in between.