BERG: Violin Concerto; STRAVINSKY: Violin Concerto in D – Christian Ferras, violin/ Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/ Ernest Ansermet – Claves

by | Nov 27, 2006 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

BERG: Violin Concerto; STRAVINSKY: Violin Concerto in D – Christian Ferras, violin/ Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/ Ernest Ansermet

Claves 50-2516 48:26 (Distrib. Albany) ***:

Two elegantly presented “live” inscriptions from the archives of Radio Suisse Romande, featuring the supremely-gifted but tragically short-lived French violin virtuoso Christian Ferras (1933-1982) in music by Berg and Stravinsky. Ferras learned the Berg Concerto, composed in memory of Manon Gropius, in 1954 for performances that year in Strasburg; and later, in Geneva, beginning 3 April 1957, from which this performance derives. Eerie and graceful, the Berg plays like a fervent religious ecstasy, weirdly combining serial sensibilities with variants on a Bach cantata. Somehow, Ferras manages to transcend the technical obstacles of the piece (on his 1721 “President” Stradivarius) and produce a genuine beauty of tone throughout his poised application.

The Stravinsky Concerto (5 October 1966) projects a definitive zest for life, beginning with the deft chord that opens all the four movements of the work. Both Ferras and Ansermet collaborate with fervent passion in this flamboyant, drily ironic work, poised as it is in Greek conceits. Ferras captures its striking textural contrasts, its movement from sarcastic proclamations to tragic songs. Always attuned to expression, Ferras applies his especial vibrato to the 1728 “Milanollo-Teresa” Stradivarius with buoyant, piercing accuracy. The efficacy of the second of the Arias proves a poignant moment in Stravinsky interpretation. Not for general consumption, likely, but a disc that will reward connoisseurs with a purity of expression to make these two concertos eminently repeatable.

— Gary Lemco

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