Poised and elegant playing from the young Latvian
As on her debut disc of Bach, Bartok and Ysaye, the young Latvian violinist Baiba Skride here avoids the obvious by juxtaposing a favourite Mozart concerto with music by Michael Haydn and Schubert. The Haydn concerto, one of three he wrote around 1760, is a slender, amiable work that ambles along pleasantly but uneventfully in its first two movements, then picks up for a catchy dance finale. With her sweet, finely focused tone and graceful sense of phrase, Skride gives a lovely performance, ideally poised in the galant Adagio, nicely balancing refinement and zest in the finale. She is just as good in the engagingly garrulous Schubert Rondo, bringing witty new inflections to the main theme each time it breezes in, and negotiating the skittering passagework with nonchalant elegance.
I enjoyed the Mozart concerto, too, especially the outer movements where Skride combines playfulness, delicacy and imaginative touches of shading. But while she sings eloquently in the elysian Adagio, I find her con amore approach slightly overromanticised. With their lighter tone, greater variety of bow-strokes (Skride tends to cultivate a seamless sostenuto) and more selective use of vibrato, both Viktoria Mullova (Philips, 11/02) and Pekka Kuusisto (Ondine, 3/04) find a vein of innocence, even a touch of puckishness, that rather eludes Skride.
A pity, too, that she opts for the traditional, inflated cadenzas by Sam Franko, with their orgy of multiple stoppings. Still, the beauty and finish of her playing are undeniable, here and elsewhere. The CPE Bach Chamber Orchestra accompany sprucely throughout,... Richard Wigmore