Henri Vieuxtemps was born nearly 200 years ago (1820), and was a Belgian composer and violinist, a towering figure in his field (says Wikipedia). He was the son of a weaver, from Verviers (now twinned with Bradford).
Despite the age of this music, and the fact that it’s a lone violin for the best part of 75 minutes, the CD is fresh sounding, contemporary and engaging, even for people who don’t subscribe to Violin Lovers Monthly. It is well written, and skilfully played by Reto Kupp.
The CD opens with excerpts from 36 Études for Violin.The opening piece Erzahlung (“Story”) is a cheeky piece; looking at the sleeve we had the definite feel of the old man winking. This is followed by Qual (“Torment”), which is lightning fast and with good reason subtitled “torment”. Kuppel is more than up to it. Those two openers sum the CD up, a mix of appealing pieces and impressive playing.
If this was a vinyl album, you’d play side one a lot, as, readers of Hot Violin Fortnightly aside, unaccompanied violin is perhaps of more limited appeal, but the pace and sharpness holds the interest more than might be imagined.Out now on Naxos 8573339