Notes and Editorial Reviews
The CD copes extremely well with even the most massive of Barenboim's tuttis and conveys the sound of the solo violin with spectacular immediacy.
"Dazzling" was EG's epithet for this performance when it first appeared on LP, and I can only echo him: fast and awkward double- stoppings that sound scratchy or imprecise in most other readings are here enunciated with seemingly effortless clarity; passages that made even Heifetz sweat a little are thrown off not only with nonchalant ease but with an engaging humour as well. Some of the pyrotechnics in the finale are negotiated with such jaunty agility that Penman actually seems to be taking his time over the movement, though his tempo is in fact extremely fast. The
unfailing sweetness of tone-colour, too, is ingratiating, enriched still further as it is by a sumptuous vibrato and frequent recourse to portamento. It was, perhaps, just this combination of the utmost technical security with refined beauty of tone that Elgar had in mind when he dedicated the concerto to Fritz Kreisler. But he also avowed, in another inscription on the score, that the work "enshrined the soul" of one unknown, and of that soul 1 find rather little in this winningly exuberant reading. At fig. 16, where the soloist takes up the pensive second subject, his line is marked semplice and only later espressivo; the whole passage is here played with the same opulent warmth.
Simplicity, in fact, is what this performance lacks: Perlman exults in the grand gestures and the opportunities for virtuoso display that the concerto offers, but its more inward pages, decked with the same histrionic swoops and the same unremitting gorgeousness of colour, seem both bland and shallow. Perlman also plays very loudly for much of the time, even during the mysterious cadenza, a fault emphasized by a recording that places him so close that, for example, the beautiful accompanying figure for muted horns at fig. 27 is almost obliterated. Barenboim has more idea of what the concerto is about, and achieves real grandeur and tenderness in many passages, but his sympathetic response is at variance with the soloist and the recording, both of which seem convinced that we are here in a territory lying midway between Wieniawski and Max Bruch. The CD copes extremely well with even the most massive of Barenboim's tuttis and conveys the sound of the solo violin with spectacular immediacy.
Gramophone (Review of the original release: September, 1984)
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Violin in B minor, Op. 61 by Sir Edward Elgar
Itzhak Perlman (Violin)
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1909-1910; England
Date of Recording: 1981
Poème for Violin and Orchestra in E flat major, Op. 25 by Ernest Chausson
Itzhak Perlman (Violin)
New York Philharmonic
Written: 1896; France
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