Monday, 5 February 2018

Simone Lamsma

One thing leads to another. An email conversation with a friend concerning the recordings of Joseph Hassid led me to review my collection of recordings of short pieces of violin and piano music by Edward Elgar (played by William Bouton, Marat Bisengaliev, and Simone Lamsma). So I re-discovered the playing of the Dutch violinist Simone Lamsma and her Naxos CDs of violin and piano music by Elgar, and of three violin concertos by Louis Spohr. The only thing I remembered about her, was that I liked her violin playing very much. Apparently she won the Benjamin Britten Violin Competition back in 2004 (why, oh why, has she never been asked to record the Britten violin concerto, as well as the Elgar?) The world is full of violin virtuoso clones recording the same old concertos and the same old sonatas. In the Elgar short pieces, Bouton and Bisengaliev give us top-rate violin playing from the music stand; Lamsma gives us top-rate violin playing from the heart, and I was sad when her Elgar CD came to an end. She and her pianist, Yurie Miura, even managed to retain my interest throughout Elgar's not-too-memorable sonata for violin and piano. If ever Ms Lamsma records the Elgar and Britten violin concertos (preferably with the Liverpool Philharmonic conducted by Vasily Petrenko) I'll buy multiple copies to distribute to my friends and family.

On another Naxos CD, Simone Lamsma gives excellent performances of Louis Spohr's 6th, 8th, and 11th violin concertos. The 8th concerto (“In modo di scena cantante”) is a test of a violinist's sensitivity and musicianship; Lamsma comes through with flying colours, helped also by an excellent 2007 recording and the Sinfonia Finlandia Jyväskylä conducted by Patrick Gallois. Spohr's music demands sophisticated violin playing rather than power virtuosity; his music is certainly well served here by Ms Lamsma. Louis (or Ludwig) Spohr's violin concertos do not deserve their current neglect (though writing eighteen of them did not help in getting them known and established). At least Naxos puts a big picture of Herr Spohr on the CD cover; DG or Warner would have plastered the booklet with photos of the attractive Ms Lamsma.

Addendum: I recorded off-air a very fine performance by Simone Lamsma with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in the Elgar violin concerto (November 2010). Unfortunately, the CDR on which I stored it has become unplayable and cannot be rescued, despite all my attempts at resuscitation. If anyone has a copy of this performance, please let me know !

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