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Britten: Violin Concerto / Walton: Viola Concerto

Maxim Vengerov Audio CD
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
Price: £13.95
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Product details

  • Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Mstislav Rostropovich
  • Composer: Benjamin Britten, William Walton
  • Audio CD (12 May 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B00008XRSW
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 226,363 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Violin Concerto Op.15: I Moderato con moto -Maxim Vengerov/Mstislav Rostropovich/London Symphony Orchestra10:05Album Only
Listen  2. Violin Concerto Op.15: II VIvace -Maxim Vengerov/Mstislav Rostropovich/London Symphony Orchestra 8:24£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Violin Concerto Op.15: III Passacaglia - Andante lento (un poco meno mosso)Maxim Vengerov/Mstislav Rostropovich/London Symphony Orchestra15:22Album Only
Listen  4. Viola Concerto: I. Andante comodoMaxim Vengerov/Mstislav Rostropovich/London Symphony Orchestra 9:47£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Viola Concerto: II. Vivo, con molto precisoMaxim Vengerov/Mstislav Rostropovich/London Symphony Orchestra 4:24£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Viola Concerto: III. Allegro moderatoMaxim Vengerov/Mstislav Rostropovich/London Symphony Orchestra16:23Album Only


Product Description

BBC Review

Slowly but surely, Maxim Vengerov is working his way through some of the 20th century's greatest violin concertos, and it's no coincidence that his friend and musical mentor Mstislav Rostropovich is on hand to conduct. Slava knew Prokofiev and Shostakovich, and had music written for him by the two Brits whose concertos appear on this new CD: Britten and Walton. It was Rostropovich who suggested the Britten to Vengerov, otherwise he might not have played it, which would have been a pity, as he says he now recognises it as one of the greatest musical creations of the 20th century, an underrated treasure.

There's nothing odd about Russian musicians adopting Britten; remember the composer's friendship with and respect for Shostakovich, and remember also that when Britten himself came to record the Violin Concerto, his soloist-of-choice was a Russian, Mark Lubotsky.

Fine though that 1970 Decca recording is, it is well-and-truly eclipsed by this newcomer. Vengerov's love for the piece flows from every pore, and his stellar technique allows him more freedom to explore the musical and emotional implications of the score. Vengerov knows that the Violin Concerto is in part a memorial to those who gave their lives fighting Franco in the Spanish Civil War (which ended in defeat for the democrats while Britten worked on it), yet he finds room for joyful exuberance in the scherzo...which only heightens the pathos of the finale. I've never felt such an epic sense of grief and tragedy in the Britten as in the final pages of this performance, with Vengerov's passionate phrasing and eloquent vibrato, and Rostropovich's emotional moulding of the orchestral textures. The recording is the business as well: firm, fat and full-range.

You're allowed barely ten seconds to recover, before the melancholy opening of Waltons Viola Concerto. Yes, Maxim's borrowed a bigger Strad, the Archinto viola, and he's obviously taken to it like...well, like a viola-player. If it weren't for the lower string, the added depth and darkness, you'd be hard pushed to recognise that this wasn't Vengerov on his regular instrument; intonation is flawless, and there's that same commanding presence and complete control. Speeds though are unusually slow in the outer movements, with Vengerov and Rostropovich taking all the time they need to allow us to register the full emotional width of work. When it comes to the high-flying lines, working well up the fingerboard, Vengerov has few rivals for the sheer beauty of sound he produces maybe only Yuri Bashmet does better (and then only briefly, and only just).

Purists might be upset by the slow speeds in the Viola Concerto, but they should hear this CD regardless: two of the greatest twentieth century concertos by Brits brought thrillingly to live by a pair of Russians. Come on, Maxim: what would be so wrong with giving us the Walton Violin Concerto as well...? --Andrew McGregor

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vengerov and Viola 24 April 2003
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
I was fortunate enough to get a pre-release of this CD in March 2003. It has not been out of the CD player since. There are few recordings available of these two pieces, probably because of the difficulties for both soloist and orchestra.
I have heard Mr Vengerov play the Britten concerto live now on several occasions and it invariably moves me to tears. It must be difficult to conjure the same emotional intensity in a recording studio, without the feedback and participation of an audience, but this comes very, very close to recreating those very special occasions when I was there. The constant circling around the major / minor conflict at the very end is soul stirring stuff. This is in my opinion one of the best (if not THE best) violin concertos ever written and to hear it played by by one of the best (and again I will say, if not THE best) violinists of our time is a special gift.
Now the Walton Viola concerto. If the Britten was magnificent what is this? Aided I guess by the purest and most lucious of tones from the Archinto Strad (on loan from the RAM for the occasion), this is the pinnacle (so far) of Mr Vengerov's career. I was left speechless and wordless. Every note seemingly treated with such care and attention, you will notice things you never heard before in this concerto however well you know it. Such a shame that without a viola of his own (yet!)he will not be performing it live at the moment (though when he does I plan to be there!). Such a wonderful piece and played to absolute perfection.
I must comment on the LSO's superb performances also, in both concerti. In all the live performances I have heard some come close but none actually reach the standard of playing and interpretation we have here. Each member taking their part so well in the solo passages and the ensemble so perfect too. They are to be congratulated.
Buy this CD....and if you get chance to experience it live do that too, you will never forget the experience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two great British String Concertos 19 Sep 2012
By Graham Mummery TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Though I know much of the violin repertoire, the Britten Concerto has not been one of the works I have fully acquainted myself with, I remember hearing a radio performance of it many years ago by Ida Haendel and enjoying it, but never bought her recording.

The opening of this work is one of the most haunting in the violin repertoire, and it's ending devastating. The performance here is lyrical, persuasive and very moving. Vengerov's technique is one of the most impressive of our time, or from any time in the past. His tone is sensual here. The accompaniment by the orchestra under Rostropovich is very effective, but perhaps that was inevitable considering the great cellist, here as conductor, was a great friend and advocate of Britten's music. The performance is of a quality that one wonders why it has not taken its proper place among more familiar British violin concertos such as the Elgar and the Walton.

By contrast, I know the Walton Viola Concerto well. As a viola player myself (though not in the level of anyone named here!) I'm often intrigued by how violinists adapt to the larger and "nobler" instrument- as the great violist William Primrose once facetiously put it. It has been recorded by two violinists (hardly an invasion) before, namely Menuhin Walton: Violin and Viola Concertos/Partita and Kennedy Walton: Violin and Viola Concertos; The Lark Ascending, though, Pinchas Zuckerman, to my mind the violinist who is to my mind most successful on viola, has not recorded it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mindblowing! 14 Aug 2003
Format:Audio CD
This CD has been hyped to the gills by the Classical Music press, and for a change the hype is absolutely merited. Vengerov's touch is absolutely perfect, bringing every subtlety of tone from his instruments. The Britten is ravishing, especially the finale, but the Walton is what really makes this recording stand out. It's difficult to believe Vengerov only learned to play the viola for this piece. His tone is by turns heart-meltingly warm and heart-breakingly mournful, and I can only hope it helps give this Viola Concerto more recognition for the masterpiece it is.
Rostropovich's conducting is also masterful.
I've had this CD for 2 months now and it still gets an airing more or less every week. The new release of 2003 so far, to my mind.
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Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Mindblowing! 14 Aug 2003
Format:Audio CD
This CD has been hyped to the gills by the Classical Music press, and for a change the hype is absolutely merited. Vengerov's touch is absolutely perfect, bringing every subtlety of tone from his instruments. The Britten is ravishing, especially the finale, but the Walton is what really makes this recording stand out. It's difficult to believe Vengerov only learned to play the viola for this piece. His tone is by turns heart-meltingly warm and heart-breakingly mournful, and I can only hope it helps give this Viola Concerto more recognition for the masterpiece it is.
Rostropovich's conducting is also masterful.
I've had this CD for 2 months now and it still gets an airing more or less every week. The new release of 2003 so far, to my mind.
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