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Friday, February 20, 2009

Pleasant Violin Concertos

Pierre RODE (1774-1830)

Violin Concerto No. 7 in a minor, Op. 9 [17:53]
Violin Concerto No. 10 in b minor, Op. 19 [20:14]
Violin Concero No. 13 in f-sharp minor, Op. post. [19:53]

Friedemann Eichhorn, (violin)
South West German Radio Orcheatra, Kaiserlautern
Nicolás Pasquet

Includes free downloadable bonus track available from

Recorded at the SWR Studio, Kaisrlautern, Germany from 29 January to 1 February, and from 6-9 February 2007.

NAXOS 8.570469 [58:00]

Pierre Rode was a prominent violinist in his day and was one of the founders of the violin department of the Paris Conservatoire, newly reformed after the ouster of Louis XVI. He was respected by Beethoven, and was a friend of the Mendelssohn family. Favored by Paganini, he enjoyed a fairly successful career as a soloist, spending a brief span as the solo violinist at the Paris Opera, and four years in Russia as violinist to the Tsar. Upon his return to France in 1808 his playing was received with far less enthusiasm than it had been in the past, and his fame diminished. A disastrous comeback attempt in 1828 ended his performing career, and his friends claimed that the failed concert hastened his death in 1830.

He left behind thirteen violin concertos, none of which has a place in the modern repertoire. Friedemann Eichhorn has attempted a bit of a revival here as a part of Naxos’ ongoing and laudable quest to give us a recording of every note of music ever penned. The result is some fairly elegant stuff, worthy of the occasional listen, but with little chance of ousting Mozart, Beethoven or Mendelssohn on the concert stage.

To modern ears, this is classical music through and through. Structured and somewhat formulaic, one might mistake it for the work of a lesser Beethoven upon first hearing. These concertos were, however, somewhat groundbreaking in their time, with their emphasis upon the soloist as the hero. The solo parts are indeed more prominent than what Mozart allowed in his concertos, and the music is at turns dramatic, lyrical and jaunty. Well crafted, concise and to the point, they provide the needed aural pleasure to pronounce them good, but they will hardly change the world.

Mr. Eichhorn plays with a sweet and airy tone, well suited for the light-heartedness of the music, even when it is cast in the minor mode. There is ample technical display to support Rode’s reputation as a virtuoso, and Eichhorn carries off florid passages with ease. The Kaiserlautern Orchestra is a fine ensemble, playing with a taut rhythmic drive and a fine sense of balance and intonation. Maestro Pasquet never lets his players overwhelm the soloist and he has chosen brisk but never breathless tempi.

It would be nice to see some of these works revived into the student repertoire perhaps or in the professional realm as matinee material. They are pleasant excursions, and worthy of a listen or two, especially at the Naxos bargain price!

1 comment:

-Josef said...

Ein anderes Jahr, so noch einmal alter Mann, alles Gute zum Geburtstag.