- String Octet in C major, Op. 7
- Violin Concerto No. 1, Sz. 36, BB 48a
As a concerto soloist and chamber musician, Vilde Frang explores what might be considered public and private aspects of her art, though in both pursuits, her expressive and deeply internalized playing belies any simplistic division between the two. In this 2018 Warner Classics release of Béla Bartók's "Violin Concerto No. 1" and George Enescu's "Octet for strings in C major, Op. 7," Frang meets all expectations of a virtuoso soloist in the former work and takes a more collaborative approach in the latter, yet between them there is an overlapping of musical aims. Introspection is the dominant mood in the first movement of Bartók's youthful concerto, and Frang maintains a controlled lyricism that is both melancholy and ardent, only to be dispelled by the brusque second movement, which calls for flashiness and extroversion. However, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France is held in check by conductor Mikko Franck, so Frang's moody solos are never overwhelmed by the accompaniment, which sometimes is quite loud. The string octet in Enescu's work is surprisingly full-sounding and resembles a string orchestra in its volume and richness, though Frang's distinctive sound is never lost in the mix. Yet for all the rustic hubbub of this energetic music, Frang conveys a pensiveness in the intimate third movement that reminds the listener that this is still chamber music, not a concerto. Warner's recorded sound seems a bit manipulated to even out the wide dynamics in the Bartók and the booming acoustics in the Enescu, which contribute to the octet's unnaturally big sound.