We have been here before – almost – Nielsen’s Violin Concerto, same orchestra, conductor and label, with Korngold exchanged for Prokofiev. It all ties in with the 2016 Carl Nielsen Violin Competition; thus Liya Petrova (joint first) entered the same Odense venue to record almost as soon as Jiyoon Lee had vacated it. And Petrova is nearly as successful in Nielsen’s wonderful Violin Concerto and similarly enjoys a positive collaboration with Kristiina Poska and her well-versed orchestra.
Petrova gives a slightly fierier and more-rhapsodic account than does Lee, although her tone can be somewhat thin in the highest register and intonation verges on ‘off’ very occasionally, in a Menuhin-like sense (he recorded the Nielsen) but there is much to enjoy and return to, although I wouldn’t prefer it to Lee who finds greater wit and caprice in the Finale. However, Petrova lets herself off the leash with the technically challenging cadenzas, written with expertise by the composer, a good-enough violinist to have played in the Royal Danish Orchestra for sixteen years.
Petrova’s story-telling gifts come into their own with the Prokofiev, a vivid, even volatile account if somewhat short of the very quietest dynamics (a bit wearing at times, and the orchestra can be over-bright), but she clearly has no qualms with the red light and microphones capturing her playing for posterity – Petrova appears to be a ‘go for it’ violinist, which doesn’t mean the central movement is hell-for leather, it’s quite measured in fact, and there is poise and sensitivity elsewhere, not least the opening of the Finale, which is expressively touching, as is the sense of the music being resolved in the closing bars: journey undertaken, arrived home safely, poignancy rating very high.