Though the violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja naturally takes centre stage in this thoughtfully constructed collection, the disc is as much a portrait of the remarkable Camerata Bern as it is another showcase for Kopatchinskaja’s dazzling virtuosity. Two of the pieces here – Sándor Veress’s dutifully neoclassical Musica Concertante, for 12 strings, and Francisco Coll’s double concerto for violin and cello, Les Plaisirs Illuminés – were composed for the Camerata, while Alberto Ginastera’s brooding Concerto per Corde fits nicely alongside the Veress, with which it shares a clear stylistic heritage going back to Bartók; both string works are played with remarkable finesse and precision, without a conductor.
Coll’s concerto is an expansion of a two-movement piece for violin and cello, and borrows its title from a painting by Salvador Dalí. The musical imagery in the fast-slow-fast-slow scheme certainly conveys the heightened, almost grotesquely vivid immediacy of surrealism, with the two solo instruments often pushed to their expressive and technical extremes. Sol Gabetta is the cello soloist, and her partnership with Kopatchinskaja is very much one of equals, with each seeming to push the other on to even more brilliance.
A miniature by Coll follows the concerto, featuring Kopatchinskaja in feral child mode, hooting and hissing her way through LalulaLied, as she accompanies herself in a setting of a nonsense poem by Christian Morgenstern. A miniature by Kurtág (Jelek VI for string trio, from Signs, Games and Messages), and pieces for two violins by Bartók (Duo Pizzicato) and Ligeti (Baladă şi Joc) separate the larger-scale works, and Camerata Bern close the whole sequence with an improvisation, a morning chorus of birdsong, atmospherically evoked.
This week’s other pick
An even more impressive concerto by Coll, his 2017 Turia, for guitar and ensemble, is the centrepiece of guitarist Jacob Kellermann’s fine collection on BIS, along with Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, and another specially commissioned work, Pete Harden’s Solace and Shimmer. Like Rodrigo, Coll was born in Valencia, and Turia is named after the dry river bed that snakes through the city. He describes it as “my most flamenco-coloured work yet”, and the five movements conjure up a series of vividly coloured impressions, in which the outlines of Spanish dances are never far beneath the surface. But those references are only starting points; Coll’s prodigious melodic and rhythmic invention, and his remarkable ear for colour, are dazzling enough on their own terms.