Elgar: Violin Concerto, Interlude from The Crown of India, Polonia
Tasmin Little (solo), Sir Andrew Davis (cond), Royal Scottish National Orchestra
In performing one of Sir Edward Elgar's best-loved works, Tasmin Little takes on some of the greatest violinists of the past 100 years, with performances by the likes of Yehudi Menuhin (conducted by Elgar himself), Jascha Heifetz and Itzhak Perlman among the classic recordings of the 20th century. Little has far less of the tortured artist about her than many of the great violinists - indeed, like her conductor Sir Andrew Davis, her career's work has been about making classical music more approachable for the general public, not as the dumbed-down, glammed-up light classics of crossover releases but by introducing new audiences to real and often challenging music. The violin concerto was, in its time, a huge popular success, which makes it a good match for such an artist, as does the extra track featuring Elgar's alternative cadenza, which he wrote to be suitable for early recording techniques. Still, while this is a moving performance indeed, Little's technically exceptional playing does sometimes lack the bite, passion and attack to be found in both the Perlman and Heifetz recordings.
Also out in classical
Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé, Boléro, Pavane
Valery Gergiev (cond), London Symphony Chorus, London Symphony Orchestra
Ravel's Diaghilev-commissioned work for the Ballets Russes, Daphnis et Chloé, is an iridescent work of tone colour, and the Bolero well known, but the real treat here is the sublimely desolate Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte: a spine-tingling treat.
The Very Best of Nigel Kennedy
The violin genius became a household name in 1989 with his recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, and has been rebelling ever since, as this two-CD album shows, featuring composers as diverse as Chopin and Nick Drake. Whatever you think of the repertoire, his mastery of the instrument is undeniable.