Notes and Editorial Reviews
Elena Denisova (vn); Alexei Kornienko, cond; Collegium Musicum Carinthia
Schoenberg’s Vienna Society for Private Musical Performances investigated and played the new music of the 1910s and 1920s, which ever-conservative Vienna would never dream of acknowledging. Lacking funds for a full orchestra, the society’s members made their own chamber arrangements of orchestral pieces, some of which, such
Pelleas und Melisande
, demanded huge orchestras. Works that were transcribed by Zemlinsky or Schoenberg were the fortunate ones; from the evidence at hand, violinist Rudolf Kolisch was not in their league. One might expect that a chamber-music arrangement (string quartet, double bass, flute, clarinet, horn, harmonium, and piano) might be just the thing for Reger’s Violin Concerto. Not so: in this case, Reger’s orchestration is perfectly satisfactory; Kolisch’s reduction confuses rather than clarifies the textures and does nothing to relieve the soporific nature of the work. Furthermore, this provincial Austrian ensemble cannot begin to match the performance level of the Dresden Staatskapelle or the Stuttgart Philharmonic in modern stereo recordings nor the Amsterdam Concertgebouw in a 63-year-old monaural radio transcription.
The good news is that this performance is rescued by the playing of Denisova, a superb young Russian violinist; her silvery yet forward tones rise above the surrounding murk. Although ORF’s notes tell us nothing, she takes what in a better-known piece would be called the standard cuts and never dawdles in any of the three movements, so that this sometimes hour-plus concerto whizzes by in a mere 47 minutes. Despite its rhythmic and dynamic longueurs and occasional tedious harmonic procedures, there is much lyrical beauty to be found in this score, and Denisova makes the most of it. ORF’s recorded sound is nothing special, but it does present the violin honestly. While I cannot in good conscience recommend Reger’s Violin Concerto to anyone who doesn’t know it, those of us who have developed an odd fondness for the piece will be rewarded by hearing this disc.
FANFARE: James H. North
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Violin in A major, Op. 101 by Max Reger
Elena Denisova (Violin)
Collegium Musicum Carinthia
Written: 1907-1908; Germany
Notes: Arranger: Rudolph Kolisch.
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