It may be premature to call Adès’ Violin Concerto (2005) a repertoire work, but the simultaneous appearance of two new recordings on top of the established version by its first exponent, Anthony Marwood, shows how eagerly it has been snapped up by leading violinists and how open to interpretation it is.

Listening to these newcomers, you can be in no doubt this is a masterpiece, its shape and ecstatic lyricism rooted in tradition but with an irresistible modern edge – the romantic and, for Adès, surprisingly emotional slow movement providing a magnetic pole around which the flighty instabilities of the two outer movements revolve.

Not a note is wasted: this compact 20-minute concerto grips the ear throughout. Herresthal, with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra, is more in touch with the concerto’s freewheeling fantasy, and the recording showcases the orchestra’s equally absorbing role.

Hadelich and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic are less intense in the outer movements, but their approach pays dividends in the slow movement which, at nearly a minute longer, is wonderfully mysterious and reflective. The couplings may influence your decision – deftly underwhelming orchestrations of Couperin on BIS, Sibelius’s Violin Concerto and Three Humoresques on Avie – but you can’t go wrong with either and I was absorbed by both.

Thomas Adès

Violin Concerto

Peter Herresthal/Andrew Manze

(BIS, download only)


Violin Concertos

Augustin Hadelich/Hannu Lintu


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