The sound world of Poland’s Karol Szymanowski is unlike anything else: simultaneously rich and luxuriant, mercurial and heartrending. He can make the violin weep like few others but he also makes it sing and dance. And all these qualities are vividly captured by the Latvian violinist Baiba Skride.
Some treat the First Concerto as a kind of impressionistic wash of sound; not Skride, who finds real clarity, aided and abetted by Vasily Petrenko and an Oslo Philharmonic on coruscating form. In Skride’s hands this is a forward-looking work (it dates from 1916) rather than a nostalgic one and she finds clear connections between it and the more folk-infused Second Concerto, written 16 years later. Skride can pin you against the wall in terms of intensity of sound but just as important is her chamber-musical interaction with the orchestral players.
Rounding out the disc are the Mythes, inspired by classical mythology, and Baiba Skride is joined by her equally talented sister Lauma at the piano. Think Debussy meets an eastern exoticism and prepare to be seduced.