Henri Vieuxtemps was one of the greatest violin virtuosos of his age, considered by some to be Paganini’s successor. Not surprisingly, most of his compositions were for the violin (including seven concertos).

This release features some of Vieuxtemps’ shorter works for violin and orchestra. But shorter doesn’t necessarily mean easier.

As violinist Reto Kuppel remarked, “Embedded in the pulsing of the orchestra, the violin rises to a frenzy of the highest virtuosity and to the limits of what is possible on the instrument.”

And how.

Every one of these works features several types of advanced techniques. But they also feature some beautifully crafted melodies. Vieuxtemp creates concise, interesting works that deliver on excitement.

Especially interesting is the Duo Brilliant for violin, cello, and orchestra. Vieuxtemps wrote two cello concertos and was well aware of the instrument’s possibilities. In this 15-minute work, Viextemps challenges both soloists technically, and also musically. This piece depends on the performers not losing the thread of the melody. And neither Reto Kuppel nor cellist Kirill Bogaturev does.

I was only familiar with Vieuxtemps’ concertos (and only a few of them). This release helps me further appreciate this Belgian artist. And also the artistry of Reto Kuppel.

Henri Vieuxtemps: Works for Violin and Orchestra
Reto Kuppel, violin; Kirill Bogaturev, cello
Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra; Marcus Bosch, conductor
Naxos 8.573993