Augustin Hadelich/Thomas Ades

1-3 Violin Concerto Concentric Paths

What makes this recording by Augustin Hadelich stimulating, with Hannu Lintu conducting the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Britain’s oldest, is the opportunity to hear a fresh interpretation by a daring violinist of a challenging composition by Thomas Ades.

Hadelich went out of his way to consult with the English composer prior to the recording, which substantiates the violinist’s reputation as a musician intrigued by the essence of music, by the forces behind the progenation.

There is less opportunity for Hadelich’s fast-gingered brilliance, to paraphrase The New Yorker, to be put to the test with Concentric Paths, although his virtuosity is given ample outing in the accompanying Violin Concerto Op. 47 by Sibelius.

Putting Sibelius and Ades on the same ticket is a smart and practical move: two composers from the opposite side of the musical fence – Ades is very much alive – with the polyrhythms of the former and the different tempi of the latter, and seamlessly served by the virtuosity  of a violinist who, with Concentric Paths, overcomes Ades’ hurdles with such ease that it is tempting to forget the scrupulosity of his approach.

In Concentric Paths, Ades has the violin and orchestra play in different meters, but this challenge is one of many. Ades is a composer who can think like a theatre director, and interpreters of Concentric Paths ought not to lose sight of a Pantheistic feel to his music.

The composer stressed the importance of almost excavating the circularity of each movement to Hadelich, with each note pushing against the next, the tension maintained from the pulsating first movement, the brewing second and the intense third and last.

The first movement flows into view, Hadelich’s violin almost going against the flow, like a leaf struggling to stay afloat on a spinning vortex, but Ades’ strings are Spring-like, gushing: the second movement is a passacaglia, a gorgeous bridge between what has gone and what is to come, with the emphasis on an almost subterranean tension, with dramatic gusts. In the third movement you feel the tone is more vulnerable, the colours almost drained.

I read once how Ades apparently used aligned cycles to provide harmonic, melodic and motivic material, and if this is another way of striving for conclusion, the third movement makes harmonic sense, if you can imagine it standing apart from the other two, it is sumptuous as played by Hadelich.

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