Upon Robert's death, Clara Schumann staged a Last Judgement. Brahms and Joachim served as archangels. The brief: to protect her husband's posthumous reputation. In the dock were his late compositions. Those deemed to signpost his descent into madness suffered the fate of the goats: hellfire. They're known to eternity. Upon advice, those works which broadcast genius accompanied the sheep to Paradise. Amazingly, the Ghost Variations - the seal of doom - evaded the inferno. Much the same could be said of the infamous Mass which is near-worthless as a composition. The Requiem lived to fight another day.
As if parrying the Satan Bug, Joachim sealed away the Violin Concerto for a century. It took a Medium and the Third Reich itself to disinter it in 1937 (read up on it - it's good fun). Over time, the Violin Concerto has steadily risen to semi-prominence. I love it. Why such opprobrium has come its way over time is a mystery. Sure, the orchestral contributions in the first movement are static and heavily scored - oh for an edit; even so, its grandeur and sweep are irresistible. For Lot's Wife and her kin, the Langsam in B Flat Major is an ultimate statement. It's a remembrance of things past and lost. What is one to say of a man who is being torn asunder by demonry and yet brings such marvels into the world?
This is my first encounter with Baiba Skride. In addition to being a honey, she can play. The violin is a Stradivarius: combine it with her rich tone and it's an indelible experience. She's equal to the challenge of the Violin Concerto. By virtue of her vibrancy and spunk, Skride minimises the longueurs of Opus 131 (which is less inspired than the Violin Concerto). The transcription of the Cello Concerto was uncovered in 1987 (evidently Schumann undertook the arrangement for Joachim). It's a remarkable success. On the basis of this performance, one would have thought it was written for this instrument. Listen to Skrida at 1'40" in the slow movement: that's magic.
John Storagards and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra match her excellence. Much the same could be said of the recording.
If you're yet to be convinced by the Violin Concerto or Schumann's wider credentials as a composer of concertos (outside Opus 54), this is a reckoning. Gun stuff.