Works for Violin and Orchestra
Reto Kuppel, violin
Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra - Marcus Bosch
Naxos 8.573993 (66:00)

This is quite a discovery: an album of melodic well-fashioned light classical music from a composer I have heard of but know nothing about, played by an orchestra and conductor whose names I have not even come across before.

The Belgian violinist-composer Henry Vieuxtemps (1820-1881) was evidently "a towering figure" of his time much admired by Wagner, Chopin and Berlioz. After listening to this release, I am with them; but history is fickle.

There are eight of his works on the album including a12-minute piece called 'Old England' (he often performed in London), which includes The Oak and the Ash, Sally in Our Alley, and The British Grenadiers. Other notable items are the slightly longer 'Duo Brilliant', a version for violin, orchestra and its principal cellist the Russian Kirill Bogatyr, and Andante et rondo. The last track is Hommage Paganini, who was known as the greatest violin virtuoso of all time.

The outstanding violin soloist here is German born Reto Kuppel, who for almost two decades was concertmaster of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. His performances on earlier Naxos discs and in the concert hall have been highly praised by both critics and audiences.

The copious liner notes inform me that the 96-strong Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 2007 and its repertoire includes both Western and Arabic music. Also, that the conductor Marcus Bosch is prominent in his home country of Germany and sought after as guest conductor across the world.

The album is, then, a very pleasant-sounding experience and recommended as well worth giving a spin, or whatever you do to get your music nowadays.

Peter Burt 2020

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