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Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto, Etc / Kaler, Russian Po


Release Date: 02/27/2007 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8557690   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Ilya Kaler
Conductor:  Dmitry Yablonsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Talk about rotten luck. Naxos has had these performances in the can for a couple of years, and have just released them, hot on the heels of Julia Fischer’s recent Tchaikovsky disc on Pentatone, containing exactly the same programme. The only difference is that Kaler plays Tchaikovsky's Souvenir d’un lieu cher in Glazunov’s orchestration, while Fischer plays the original version for violin and piano.

I fear that in all the excitement over Fischer’s album, Kaler’s will be ignored, and that would be incredibly unfair because this disc is excellent in every way. In fact, Kaler’s account points up the only deficiency in Fischer’s account: a lack of variety to her tone. Kaler's performance is full of contrasts, as he colours the
Read more violin line with subtle shading, yet maintains a lyrical virility throughout. It is clear that he has lived with this concerto under his fingertips for many years and that he still finds much to enjoy and inspire in the familiar turns of phrase. There is an artless facility to his playing of the big tunes as in the opening statement of the first movement or in the gorgeous Canzonetta, and a sweetness of tone that is quite disarming. As the violin writing gets busier, Kaler and the orchestra tend to pick up the pace quite significantly, yet the rapid passages are dispatched with effortless brilliance. Kaler's first movement cadenza has plenty of character, freedom and precision. Cadenzas apart, Yablonsky and his orchestra lend sympathetic support. This performance is not so much a full-blooded flood of romanticism as a blossoming account of elegance as well as brilliance. It also wears it war-horse status lightly, impressing itself upon the listener by virtue of its freshness and natural feeling. It is a tremendously satisfying account and one that bears rehearing.

Similar comments apply to the remaining pieces on this album. The quality of the music, both in terms of its inspiration and emotional content, makes this programme apt and it is hard to understand why it is not more common. The Sérénade mélancolique is quite a rarity, but it deserves to be far more popular. It was in fact Tchaikovsky's first piece for solo violin, written to a commission from the great Leopold Auer. The violin's part is so full of longing and achingly beautiful that it is almost a vocalise. There are striking effects of orchestration too, with some magical woodwind interplay underpinning the sighing of the violin.

The Souvenir is, if anything, even more engaging. The first of its three movements was initially intended as the second movement of the violin concerto, with the spakling scherzo and intimate melodie added later. The dark romanticism of Glazunov's orchestration is entirely idiomatic and Kaler's playing is sweet toned and brightly coloured. The little Valse-Scherzo that closes the disc makes an excellent encore and Kaler plays it with gusto.

Microphone placement favours Kaler throughout, but this is generally not overly problematic except for the first movement of the Souvenir where Kaler's breathing is a little distracting. Keith Anderson's liner-notes are up to his usual high standard.

If you are in the market for a new recording of the Tchaikovsky violin concerto this year, have a listen to this one before just buying Fischer’s. You may find, as I did, that you want both.

-- Tim Perry, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 35 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Ilya Kaler (Violin)
Conductor:  Dmitry Yablonsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Russia 
Venue:  Studio 5, Russian State Television and R 
Length: 35 Minutes 28 Secs. 
Notes: Studio 5, Russian State Television and Radio Co. (12/03/2004 - 12/10/2004) 
2.
Sérénade mélancolique for Violin and Orchestra in B minor, Op. 26 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Ilya Kaler (Violin)
Conductor:  Dmitry Yablonsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875; Russia 
Venue:  Studio 5, Russian State Television and R 
Length: 9 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Notes: Studio 5, Russian State Television and Radio Co. (12/03/2004 - 12/10/2004) 
3.
Souvenir d'un lieu cher, Op. 42 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Ilya Kaler (Violin)
Conductor:  Dmitry Yablonsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Russia 
Venue:  Studio 5, Russian State Television and R 
Length: 16 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Alexander Glazunov.
Studio 5, Russian State Television and Radio Co. (12/03/2004 - 12/10/2004) 
4.
Valse-Scherzo for Violin and Orchestra in C major, Op. 34 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Ilya Kaler (Violin)
Conductor:  Dmitry Yablonsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; Russia 
Venue:  Studio 5, Russian State Television and R 
Length: 5 Minutes 41 Secs. 
Notes: Studio 5, Russian State Television and Radio Co. (12/03/2004 - 12/10/2004) 

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