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Shostakovich: Violin Concertos No 1 And 2, Etc / Hope, Et Al

Release Date: 02/28/2006 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 62546   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Daniel Hope
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 18 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

"Hope delves very deeply and plays with an uncompromising intensity that makes this one of the best recordings of the piece [Concerto for Violin no 1]. The disc also includes Shostakovich's infrequently heard, deeply enigmatic Violin Concerto No. 2...if there was ever a performance of this odd piece to contemplate over the long term, it's this." - David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 14th 2006


SHOSTAKOVICH Violin Concertos: No. 1; No. 2. The Gadfly, op. 87: Romance (arr. Atovmian) Daniel Hope (vn); Maxim Shostakovich, cond; BBC SO WARNER 62546 2 (77: 55)

Daniel Hope mentions in his liner note his attempt to draw as close as possible to the source of works he plays; in this case, he’s collaborated with the composer’s son, Maxim, who, according to Hope, told him many ‘“hair-raising” stories about his father. Maxim recorded the first Concerto with David Oistrakh himself (in 1972, with the New Philharmonia Orchestra), so might also have had some stories to tell about that. Whatever the lineage of his performance, Daniel Hope has plugged himself into the same socket—as did Sarah Chang, in her recent recording (EMI 46053) of the Concerto with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. But while Chang reflected the Concerto’s—and Oistrakh’s—shadows, Hope has paid greater heed to their acerbic, gnomic facets, reproducing Oistrakh’s keening in the Nocturne; his mordant bite in the Scherzo; his initially veiled statements in its Passacaglia, which give way to white-hot exchanges with the orchestra at the climax; and his cocky verve in its finale. Only in its cadenza does Hope drop the emotional thread Oistrakh had spun by according greater prominence to its sardonic elements. Here and there, Shostakovich brings out rarely heard details in the orchestration, but his account of the score sounds more deadpan than Rattle’s with Chang.

The Second Concerto’s emotional landscape sounds even bleaker than that of the First; and its thematic materials sound even more prolix, though there’s no concomitant discharge of the earlier work’s electricity. Hope and Shostakovich don’t emphasize the razor-sharp edges that might be stropped in several of the first movement’s passages. On the other hand, they engage that movement’s drollery. They reveal the slow movement’s lyricism, although, as Eric Roseberry mentions in the booklet notes, the Adagio hardly brings surcease from pervasive anxiety; and in this performance, neither soloist nor conductor provides the slightest suggestion of such relief. And the succeeding finale sounds downright savage.

After the two Violin Concertos, the warm-hearted Romance from The Gadfly may seem either as welcome as a water hole or as artificial as rhinestones. Hope claims to have corrected a wrong note in this little Romance, and suggests that Maxim might have an associated story to tell about his father.

The engineers have provided lively and detailed recorded sound. While Hope’s version should appeal to those addicted to high voltage, Chang’s should satisfy those who wish to lose themselves in stygian darkness. In any case, Hope’s repertoire, presenting both Concertos, avoids direct competition. Highly recommended.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham

The Shostakovich anniversary year will expand the already generous catalogue of the composer's recordings, but this one shouldn't get lost in the crowd. Daniel Hope, currently violinist of the Beaux Arts Trio, joins with the composer's son Maxim and the BBC Symphony in the two violin concertos premiered by their dedicatee, David Oistrakh. Newer recommendable versions abound, but Hope more than holds his own against the competition.

In the First Concerto, no one matches the incomparable Oistrakh for warmth of tone, the manic hysteria of his Scherzo, or his pyrotechnic fiddling in the final Burlesque. But Hope navigates the brooding interior monologue of the first-movement Nocturne with flowing concentration and does the Passacaglia and the long Cadenza movement with captivating intensity. Sakari Oramo (for Josefowicz) finds more detail and strength in the orchestral writing than does Maxim Shostakovich, but that may reflect the up-front engineering of that disc. Hope's leaner timbre doesn't have the warmth of Vengerov or the burnished richness of Josefowicz. But such comparisons become invidious since it can be argued that Hope's tone is more suited to the raw emotion of the work. Hope's Passacaglia, for example, has both the sense of fragility inherent in the music and its sense of halting, upward striving, and he invests the hectic finale with just the right sardonic touch.

He's also impressive in the Second Concerto where his lyrical opening has just the right touch of sadness, and he makes the introspective cadenza a moving experience. If the long Adagio movement doesn't escape a sense of meandering, you could say the same for Vengerov's. In both, the conductors seem to impose a heaviness missing from more flowing accounts such as Oistrakh's. But Hope's playing there is quite wonderful, with long-lined phrasing and a firm tone even in pianissimo passages. In the last movement his light touch carries the day against the aggressive grotesquerie of Shostakovich's scoring, with its violent horn and drum eruptions. The disc includes the Romance from Shostakovich's music from the film The Gadfly, a welcome bonus in which Hope's lush playing accentuates the warm glow of the music.

If King David's recordings of the concertos still reign supreme, they should be supplemented with a more recent version that's brilliantly played, interpretively sound, and better engineered. Hope's disc qualifies on all those counts, and has the convenience of coupling both masterpieces on a single disc, earning a hearty recommendation.

--Dan Davis, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Violin no 1 in A minor, Op. 77 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Daniel Hope (Violin)
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USSR 
Venue:  BBC Studio no 1, Maida Vale, London, UK 
Length: 38 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Notes: BBC Studio no 1, Maida Vale, London, UK (11/07/2005 - 11/09/2005)
This concerto was originally published in 1956 as Op. 99.
Composition written: USSR (1947 - 1955). 
Concerto for Violin no 2 in C sharp minor, Op. 129 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Daniel Hope (Violin)
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1967; USSR 
Venue:  BBC Studio no 1, Maida Vale, London, UK 
Length: 33 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Notes: BBC Studio no 1, Maida Vale, London, UK (11/07/2005 - 11/09/2005) 
Gadfly, Op. 97: Romance by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Daniel Hope (Violin)
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1955; USSR 
Venue:  BBC Studio no 1, Maida Vale, London, UK 
Length: 5 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Lev Atovmyan.
BBC Studio no 1, Maida Vale, London, UK (11/07/2005 - 11/09/2005) 

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