October 29, 2015
Sol Gabetta’s Elgar Concerto is one of the best around, a heartfelt, tonally rounded performance, intimate and wholly at one with Mario Venzago’s generally subtle handling of the orchestral score. Check out the passage after the opening cadenza, where the main subject is handed seamlessly between soloist and strings, or Venzago’s sensitive shaping of the woodwinds’ third idea or Gabetta’s nimble, catch-me-if-you-can Scherzo. Hers is a softly spoken presence, especially beautiful in those infinitely sad modulations that fall towards the end of the piece. It’s a real contender, and the fill-ups, although relatively brief, are by no means insubstantial.
The opening of Sospiri, where Gabetta enters on a whisper and strings fall about her as if from above, deathly quiet, is extraordinarily effective, and by adding a prominent brass presence to Salut d’amour, Søren Barfoed (who arranged all three Elgar miniatures) lends the piece a rich extra serving of local British colour. La capricieuse loses none of its playfulness through being darker and deeper in tone than when played on the violin, and both the Dvořák pieces suit the programme’s overall mood of peaceful reflectiveness. Gabetta is gentle in Respighi’s Adagio con variazioni but she shows her technical mettle on the bonus CD of Pēteris Vasks’s striking solo piece The Book, where she explores and exploits just about every virtuoso effect in the book which includes, in the Dolcissimo second movement, singing while playing.