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Barber • Bruch • Vaughan Williams: Violin Concertos

Sonoko Miriam Welde (violin); Oslo Philharmonic/Tabita Berglund, *Joshua Weilerstein (Lawo Classics)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Barber • Bruch • Vaughan Williams
Bruch: Violin Concerto; Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending; Barber: Violin Concerto*
Sonoko Miriam Welde (violin); Oslo Philharmonic/Tabita Berglund, *Joshua Weilerstein
Lawo Classics LWC1222   60:26 mins


In the (relatively) early days of stereo, the no-holds-barred charismatic intensity of Isaac Stern (with the Philadelphia Orchestra/Ormandy and NYPO/Bernstein in overdrive) achieved an emotional catharsis in the Bruch and Barber concertos that still overwhelms. But with rose-tinted spectacles removed, it seems clear the unstoppable adrenal surge, coupled with high-impact CBS sonics (which rarely drop below a healthy mezzo-forte) tell only one side of the story.

This is where Sonoko Miriam Welde really comes into her own. For while she lacks nothing in excitement when the notes start flying, she produces a velvety sonority at low dynamic levels that constantly beguiles the senses. In even the Barber hell-for-leather moto perpetuo finale, she manages to subtly vary her dynamics and articulation, so that the music feels stylistically more at one with the heightened lyricism and cantabile composure of the first two movements. In the slow movement of the Bruch, Welde times her phrases to perfection with an unforced tenderness and touching simplicity that radiates contentment.

Yet arguably it is Welde’s ravishing performance of Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending that is the stand-out performance here. Here she achieves an exquisite purity of line and tonal radiance absolutely at one with the lark’s delicate flutterings and soaring eloquence. In all three pieces, the Oslo Philharmonic play with distinction under Tabita Berglund and Joshua Weilerstein, who uncover enchanting details of textural interest that are often taken for granted. For Welde, this is an auspicious debut disc.

Julian Haylock

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