Notes and Editorial Reviews
Review of the Tchaikovsky and Sibelius Violin Concertos
Václav Hudecek's bracing account of the Tchaikovsky concerto makes it easier to understand how this great work could have offended the refined sensibilities of Eduard Hanslick, the famed Viennese critic who trashed it at its premiere. Far from emphasizing delicacy and gracefulness, Hudecek's approach, with its bright tone, pointed attacks, tight rhythms, and emphatic phrasing, brings the music's Slavic character to the fore and also serves as a reminder of the work's originality. Occasionally Hudecek's envelope-pushing style results in less than secure intonation, but this only adds to the performance's arresting in-the-moment quality (the familiar first-movement cadenza sounds improvised on the spot). But this is no mere virtuoso display, as Hudecek, with Jirí Belohlávek at the helm of the Prague Symphony (playing at full tilt), creates a highly musical interpretation fully in the service of the composer.
Hudecek's bristling playing style sounds even more at home in the harsher musical landscape of the Sibelius concerto. The violin tone now tends toward fierceness, though this is largely due to the recording, made in a noticeably brighter and harder-edged acoustic setting. Once again, Hudecek's unerring sense of timing and dramatic pacing results in a stunning performance that easily stands out in a crowded field. Belohlávek and the Prague Radio Symphony match Hudecek's intensity, though they flag a bit in the finale. If you think you've heard these warhorses too many times, give this disc a spin.
--Victor Carr Jr, ClassicsToday.com