It makes sense for Hyperion to couple these two violin concertos together as though Karłowicz was not strictly Polish (he was born in Lithuania), his connections to that land began at a very early age and as thus both of these composers are seen as being representative of the Polish musical establishment.
Karłowicz's Violin Concerto Op. 8 is an early work but is strikingly beautiful, having a deep-seated romantic timbre to it although the virtuoso passages are also quite pronounced. Tasmin Little produces a sweet tone for the work and she brings a wonderful sense of momentum to the craggy opening Allegro moderato whilst the concluding Vivace assai is also pretty much safe in her hands with Brabbins providing sympathetic and colourful accompaniment. This is surely a work that deserves better exposure in the concerto repertoire.
Moszkowski's Ballade in G minor is a fine work although the music fails to get off the ground at times and one is left feeling rather disoriented towards its end. The Violin Concerto is rather loosely based on the Brahms counterpart but there is more Polish nationalism in the opening movement's main theme. Again, Little provides an excellent interpretation of this work, bringing a sweet toned hue to the haunting Andante whilst exploding into a veritable cacophony of technical brilliance in the concluding Vivace.
After Saint-Saëns, Hubay and Stanford, this Polish-Lithuanian coupling is definitely another collector's gem and with the usual informative notes and excellent recorded sound, have no doubt that there will be many takers, especially those who specialize in such rare repertoire.
Copyright © 2004, Gerald Fenech