Notes and Editorial Reviews
Violin Concerto No. 1.
Yuzuko Horigome (vn); Yuri Simonov, cond; Royal PO
ROYAL PHILHARMONIC MASTERWORKS 28790 (55:49)
Yuzuko Horigome, winner of the first prize in the 1980 Queen Elisabeth Competition, plays the opening of Bruch’s First Violin Concerto with great assurance and a rich tone, which the engineers in 2007 captured very close up, recalling the recorded sound Columbia provided Isaac Stern’s first (monaural) recording of the work with Eugene Ormandy from
1956. If some of her subsequent passagework in multiple stops sounds almost too deliberate (or even awkward), Horigome regains her aplomb in the middle section, and she brings the movement to a sweeping conclusion. The recorded sound presents Yuri Simonov’s and the orchestra’s sonorous accompaniment in three full dimensions and with plenty of definition, despite the focus on the soloist. Horigome may not possess a tone so sumptuous as Stern’s (at that time), so keenly stropped as Francescatti’s, nor so highly charged as Heifetz’s (all three violinists made recordings of the work that vied for sole possession), but, in part due to the strength of her tone production, in part due to the clarity and richness of the recorded sound (although in this movement, the violin actually threatens at times to disappear under the orchestral accompaniment), and in part due to her sharing with Simonov a wide range of dynamic nuances, her performance should recommend itself even to those who know the concerto well. If her version of the finale lacks consistent drive, its march-like theme sounds stirring enough and the lyrical second one sounds majestic enough to carry the movement. And well-judged portamentos serve as springboards in her flights into the higher registers, in which her tone sounds particularly pure.
may have received a boost in popularity due to its being Heifetz’s favorite concerto—he recorded it twice and chose it (although in a shortened version) for his landmark television program, recorded in 1970. I remember preferring David Oistrakh’s studio performance from 1962 with Horenstein and the London Symphony Orchestra to Heifetz’s. Horigome, in conjunction with Simonov and the orchestra, draws a veil of mystery over the opening, although she sounds less ardent than either in the first movement proper (Kyung Wha Chung burns a hole through the speakers in that movement’s soaring passages, with Rudolf Kempe and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Penguin 289 460 620). Horigome plays the third section, “Hey, the dusty miller,” with an incisiveness (a sharp-edged approach that Simonov and the orchestra share) lacking in even so fine a reading as Michael Rabin’s. Even if she plays the embellishments in the third movement (“I’m doun for lack o’Johnnie”) a bit deliberately, she charges forth in the war-like finale (“Scots wha hae”) with rhythmic zest and virtuosic élan.
Those who admire Bruch’s works for the violin as much as almost all violinists and aficionados of the instrument do should warmly welcome both performances into their collections—but especially that of the
FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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