Of the American violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, the American Record Guide is quoted as saying, Through her peerless mastery and vivid imagination there seems to be no limit to the colors she can draw from her instrument. Sony Classicals 6-CD reissue of some of her finest recordings include the Mendelssohn Concerto, which Gramophone praised for its sweetness and poetry, also lauding her rapt playing in Vaughan Williamss The Lark Ascending and her performance of Bruchs Scottish Fantasy, altogether a great success.
Here are three 20th-century violin concertos written within a 30-year period in three totally different styles, played by a soloist equally at home in all of them. Bernstein's Serenade, the earliest and most accessible work, takes its inspiration from Plato's Symposium; its five movements, musical portraits of the banquet's guests, represent different aspects of love as well as running the gamut of Bernstein's contrasting compositional styles. Rorem's concerto sounds wonderful. Its six movements have titles corresponding to their forms or moods; their character ranges from fast, brilliant, explosive to slow, passionate, melodious. Philip Glass's concerto, despite its conventional three movements and tonal, consonant harmonies, is the most elusive. Written in the "minimalist" style, which for most ordinary listeners is an acquired taste, it is based on repetition of small running figures both for orchestra and soloist, occasionally interrupted by long, high, singing lines in the violin against or above the orchestra's pulsation.
Barber provided these program notes for the premiere performance of his violin concerto: The first movement — allegro molto moderato — begins with a lyrical first subject announced at once by the solo violin, without any orchestral introduction. This movement as a whole has perhaps more the character of a sonata than concerto form. The second movement — andante sostenuto — is introduced by an extended oboe solo. The violin enters with a contrasting and rhapsodic theme, after which it repeats the oboe melody of the beginning. The last movement, a perpetuum mobile, exploits the more brilliant and virtuosic character of the violin.
The Trio Zimmermann’s previous release of Beethoven’s Trios received excellent reviews and won them the BBC Music Magazine’s Chamber Award in 2013. This next instalment shows us the ‘lighter’ side of Beethoven’s chamber works. The Trio in E flat major and Serenade in D major consist of sequences of six and eight movements respectively, with minuets and marches reminding us of courtly music from an earlier period. However, they are far from ‘old-fashioned’. The adventurous spirit of the young Beethoven is plain to hear, in the exceptionally creative use of textures, thematic development and formal innovation. In this music Beethoven gives each instrument an equal importance and a highly individual treatment. A first-class chamber ensemble is required to meet these demands and this is exactly what the Trio Zimmermann offer, comprised of three exceptional soloists.