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Tchaikovsky, Glazunov: Violin Concertos / Vengerov, Abbado


Release Date: 11/07/1995 
Label:  Teldec   Catalog #: 90881   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Peter Ilyich TchaikovskyAlexander Glazunov
Performer:  Maxim Vengerov
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 54 Mins. 

Imported from : European Union   
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Following up his Record of the year in the Gramophone Awards, Maxim Vengerov here offers another winner. In Tchaikovsky and Glazunov as in Prokofiev and Shostakovich hedemonstrates once again — with Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic inspired to match him — what magic imagination he has to breathe new life even into music as well-known. Surprisingly — unless I have missed a rival on the two long lists — this seems to be the only disc coupling what might reasonably be counted the two greatest romantic Russian violin concertos: if Vengerov's reading of the Tchaikovsky emerges clearly as a leading contender among many superb versions, in the Glazunov he gives a warhorse concerto extra dimensions, turning it from a display piece into a work of Read more far wider-ranging emotions.

This Tchaikovsky immediately establishes itself as a big performance, not through close placing of the soloist — the balance is forward though not excessively so — but both in the manner and in the range of dynamic of the playing. For all his power, and his youthfully eager love of brilliance, Vengerov is never reluctant to play really softly, and how magical that often is, as in the transition into the main second subject. Each theme in turn is sharply characterized, with dynamic contrasts cleanly established, as in echo phrases. If in the brief introduction Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic sound a little less sharp than usual, the tutti after the main exposition (track 1, around 6'20") has a bite and swagger that I have rarely known.

The central Canzonetta is full of Russian temperament, with Vengerov freer in his rubato than most rivals, but conveying such natural unforced expressiveness there is nothing self-conscious about it. After a warmly urgent middle section the reprise brings another moment of pianissimo magic. The finale is fast, light and sparkling, with articulation breathtakingly clean to match the transparency of the orchestral textures as controlled by Abbado. As in most recordings nowadays, the little traditional cuts are opened out, and Vengerov rounds the performance off with an explosion of excitement such 86 Gramophone November 1995 as one might expect in the concert-hall but not often in the recording studio.

The Glazunov is if anything even more remarkable, when, as I say, Vengerov finds such range of emotion, making one appreciate afresh what a wonderful and varied sequence of melodies the composer here offers. It is characteristic of Vengerov how for each in turn he shades and contrasts his tone-colours. He reserves his big fat romantic tone for the third theme, where most rivals let loose sooner with less subtle results. As in the Tchaikovsky, rubato is free but always spontaneous-sounding, and the lolloping fourth section brings some delicious portamento. Predictably the dashing final section is spectacular in its brilliance, again with each episode sharply contrasted and with orchestral textures fresh and clean. One can hardly wait for Vengerov's next disc.

-- Gramophone [11/1995]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 35 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Maxim Vengerov (Violin)
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Russia 
Date of Recording: 05/1995 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 34 Minutes 37 Secs. 
2.
Concerto for Violin in A minor, Op. 82 by Alexander Glazunov
Performer:  Maxim Vengerov (Violin)
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Russia 
Date of Recording: 05/1995 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 19 Minutes 40 Secs. 

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