There is no doubt that this CD contains one of the most refined interpretations of the Brahms's Violin Concerto, both at the level of the involved performers and recorded sound quality. The present rendition is given by a young soloist - the Lithuanian violinist Julian Rachlin, now living and teaching in Vienna - who has already established himself as a star musician on the international platform. His impressive list of collaborations include world-renowned conductors (Bernard Haitink, Lorin Maazel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Sir Neville Marriner, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti), chamber partners of the highest level (Martha Argerich, Mstislav Rostropovich, Yefim Bronfman, Evgeny Kissin, Mischa Maisky, Itamar Golan) or orchestras of the first echelon such as Vienna, Berlin, New York, Munich, Los Angeles, and Sankt Petersburg Philharmonics, London Philharmonia, London Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Tonhalle Zurich Orchestra, Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig, Orchestre de Paris, Chicago Symphony, NHK Tokyo, Santa Cecilia Orchestra Rome etc. As a personal note, I must mention that a few years ago (in Bucharest, during the Enescu Festival - 2003), I was delighted to attend a performance of Rachlin's in the company of the Moscow Soloists led by the violist Yuri Bashmet, in a bunch of short pieces by Paganini and Kreisler transcribed by Denisov for violin and chamber orchestra. I treasured that performance in my mind as a wonderful interpretive account, and have looked ever since for a new occasion to listen to Rachlin in a live concert or on a CD. Here it is!
Rachlin's playing on the recording under consideration here proves a deep understanding of the Brahmsian textures and a sympathetic feeling for the mood of the work, for its mellowness and richness of nuances, as the soloist knows how to calibrate each sound, each phrase, avoiding to push them to any extreme but giving them a powerful consistency instead. His approach explores (with great care for the tone production) some valuable own ways, yet aligning the overall rendition to fruitful Central-European musical traditions. The wondrous sound of the violin (Guarnerius del Gesu "ex Carrodus" 1741) helps a lot in the efficiency of conveying, in the ease of expression and favors the proper magic atmosphere proving itself most suitable to Rachlin's style. The soloist is paired in achieving such a glowing account by a top-notch symphony ensemble (the Bavarian Radio Orchestra) and a super star conductor (Mariss Jansons) ensuring a robust orchestral background with amazing colors and a warm sonorous paste. An intelligent accompaniment able to supply an equal footing partnership between soloist and orchestra and offer the resulting symphonic flavor so proper even to Brahms's concertante works. The dreamy tunes of the second movement exhibit a stunning directness and simplicity, far from the facile sentimentalism and cheap gloss, but aiming at the very essence of the composer's intentions, sober and melancholic. The playful finale "alla zingarese" pours in with vivid cascades, in a witty teasing dialogue with the orchestra.
As a rounder off, we are offered also the Concerto no.3 by Mozart with the same protagonists. Far from being a simple complement of the recorded program (up to its 65 minutes), this concerto occurs as an outstanding achievement in its own right. Rachlin knows to negotiate its supple and jesting phrases, its singing embellishments resembling the rococo mood, with an elegant touch and good taste.
In all, a high quality recording!