--- Classics Today: Artistic quality: 10/10, Sound quality: 10/10 ---
Pavel Šporcl boldly plunges into the dauntingly crowded sea of recorded Tchaikovsky Violin Concertos and rather than sleep with the fishes, ends up swimming with the swiftest and most impressive of them. Like so many new violin superstars he's got the technical chops in the form of stunningly sure intonation and mercurial speed combined with dead-on articulation and gobs of rich tone. But Šporcl is more than just the latest fast-playing wunderkind: there's discernible intelligence in his playing, and most importantly, he's got heart-a quality most evident in his moving renderings of Tchaikovsky's big tunes and dramatic flourishes, reflecting his own unashamedly romantic sensibility. Yet Šporcl matches this emotion with a refined musicanship that makes his reading satisfying to both the heart and the head. His cadenza sounds deeply considered and expressive without being showy or self-indulgent. However, Šporcl's showmanship does come into play in the finale, where he status, Šporcl nevertheless plays it like the great work it is, lavishing gorgeous full tone married to exquisite phrasing tosses off the rapid runs with a free-spirited virtuosity.
Although Dvorák's Violin Concerto has yet to achieve warhorse and a lightness of touch that enlivens the composer's singing melodies. His special attention to the music's rhythmic pulse gives his reading an engaging vitality, both in the combined first and second movements and especially in the brightly dancing finale, where Šporcl's crisp syncopations and electric enthusiasm set off fireworks. Vladimir Ashkenazy and Jiri Belohlávek both form responsive and supportive partners, while the Czech Philharmonic plays majestically in both works. Supraphon's live recordings reproduce the venue with clarity, realistic presence, and dynamic impact. Even collectors who already own a version or two of these works must hear this extraordinary new disc.