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Live in Riga - Beethoven: Violin Concerto, Op​.​61 & Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending

by Thomas Gould

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john greenwood
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john greenwood I loved this album from the first time through. I don't recall another classical album having this much color and individual personality stamped into the sound the way this plays. Obviously there is some confidence and clarity of vision with the delivery. I flat out enjoyed it. I expect many new fans will be won over like myself. Favorite track: Violin Concerto in D, Op.61 - I. Allegro ma non troppo.
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1-3. Violin Concerto in D, Op. 61 – Ludwig van Beethoven

I. Allegro ma non troppo
II. Larghetto
III. Rondo (Allegro)

4. The Lark Ascending – Ralph Vaughan Williams

‘Live in Riga’ is the major new album from the celebrated 31 year old British violinist Thomas Gould. Recorded live in concert with Sinfonietta Riga on April 11th 2014 at the Great Guild Hall in Riga, Latvia, it confirms Gould’s enormous potential as one of the most inventive and colourful instrumentalists of his generation. Gould is no ordinary classical musician but one of a new generation who refuse to be defined by a single genre. He has developed impressive jazz credentials, but it is in this environment as soloist/director of classical repertoire where he really excels. The Times recently described Gould as “intent on becoming the Nigel Kennedy of his generation”. Gould, however, is incomparably his own musician. Bold and courageous enough to forge his own path and follow his singular vision, he steps outside the footsteps of the greats.

‘Live in Riga’ is a defining album for Gould, his first disc of a three-album deal with forward-thinking British jazz and classical record label Edition Classics. Over the last decade he has been in demand as a soloist with major orchestras worldwide, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra and LA Phil New Music Group. He is also much in demand as a leader/director, working with Britten Sinfonia, Aurora Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s ACO2, but it’s when he brings these disciplines together that the magic happens. As Gould explains, “It means that everyone plays in a more engaged way. There is a group commitment to making it work, so the process is much more collaborative than when working with conductor.”

Sinfonietta Riga is an orchestra with a story to tell. Formed in 2006, their vision is as bold as Gould’s. Equally happy to play in concert dress or T-shirts they are intent on building new audiences for the music while reaching for the highest artistic standards. Their collaboration is a perfect match and a unique experience for both the orchestra and for Gould. This live concert recording bears witness to this special musical symbiosis.

To release an album featuring Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending is a bold decision. As two cornerstones of the violin repertoire, there are plenty of performances to compare, but Gould’s versions demonstrate a brilliance of tone and colour that demands attention. His flexibility and breadth of musical interests is fully evident. Gould’s playing has the clarity you would expect from any major performer but radiates a freedom in its expression as though improvised with an immediate elegance and poise.

For Gould it’s all about achieving the right balance. Whether it’s jazz or classical, written or improvised, as soloist or director, Gould is right in the eye of the storm. If the dark clouds gathering in the wider music world imply that the days of the single-minded virtuoso are coming to an end; if to succeed in that brave new world we need to attract more diversity and brighter colours, then in Thomas Gould we may have found the lightning conductor to spark a new generation.


released May 4, 2015


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