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These concertos come from opposite ends of Bartók’s career. The first, a romantic-rhapsodic work in two movements, is the 26-year old composer’s love letter to a brilliant violinist, Steffi Geyer. She broke off their friendship just after the concerto was completed, and it remained unperformed until after Bartók’s death.

Faust, with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Daniel Harding, relishes its warmth and volatility while respecting its musical integrity. The second concerto exemplifies Bartók’s mature synthesis of traditional and modern styles. I do not share leading violinists’ faith in its greatness, but Faust puts her unshowy brilliance at its service.

Bartók

Violin Concertos 1 & 2

Isabelle Faust

(Harmonia Mundi)

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