Most helpful positive review
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THE classic recording
on 8 May 2009
I bought this recording on vinyl when it was first released in 1970 and it has been in my collection without a break ever since then in various formats. This newly remastered mid-price reissue of a classic recording is very welcome.
At the time of laying down these two readings Chung was a precocious 22 years old, who had just secured her first Stradivarius. Previn was also full of youthful vigour and only recently appointed the LSO's Chief Conductor
I cannot think of a single decision, tempo, dynamic, phrasing, with which I disagree in either of these two concertos. This reading of the Tchaikovsky remains for me the standard by which I judge all other recordings. It is beautifully worked between the soloist and orchestra with tempi as close to perfect as makes no difference. The closing allegro vivacissimo is performed with amazing elan, and Chung's touch, even in the difficult pizzicati and spiccati is wonderfully sure-footed without ever tipping over into the breathless.
The measured Sibelius performance is a remarkable contrast to the incandescence of the Tchaikovsky. It dates from a quarter of a century after its companion on this recording (1903 against 1878) and comes from a country that had then (and still has) a noticeable aversion to its Russian neighbour. Chung and Previn imbue this with what I can only describe as an Arctic glitter compared to their blazing reading of the Tchaikovsky. Again, the tempi and phrasing are close to perfection.
Put them together, the fire of the Tchaikovsky and the ice of the Sibelius and we have a gem of a combined performance that even after nearly 40 years still has the power to keep me riveted.
This is a staggering recording, the standard by which I judge all other performances of these two works. A relatively infrequent coupling (the Tchaikovsky is more often coupled with the Mendelssohn concerto in E minor), but a welcome contrast between two remarkable works.