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4.0 out of 5 stars Warner Classics Maxim Vengerov Box Set, 24 Jan. 2011
This review is from: BEST OF MAXIM VENGEROV (Audio CD)
Maxim Vengerov burst on to the scene in the late 1980s and soon secured a recording contract with the late Teldec label in Germany. Now that Teldec has been subsumed into the Warner Classics stable, this box set, issued in 2006, usefully collects those records at a bargain price. Rather than try to review each individual CD, I'll be lazy and insert product links as most have been reviewed by others! I would say that this box is well-worth having as all of the performances are good, and the majority are excellent.

The first Teldec releases came along in 1992 and comprised a chamber music disc featuring Beethoven's "Spring" sonata, Mozart's K378, and Mendelssohn's F major violin sonata. Vengerov was accompanied by Itamar Golan in the Beethoven & Mozart and Alexander Markovich in the Mendelssohn. Classical Violin Sonatas. The next 1992 release was also comprised of chamber music and featured Beethoven's "Kreutzer" sonata and Brahms' second violin sonata; Markovich was the pianist here, too. Beethoven/Brahms - Violin Sonatas was the original CD.

The last 1992 release featured the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Mehta with Vengerov in the Paganini violin concerto 1, Saint-Saens Introduction et Rondo capriccioso & Havanaise, and Waxmans Carmen Fantasy. Works for Violin and Orchestra was the original release.

Two further CDs appeared in 1993 and these were a collection of virtuoso pieces Virtuoso Works for Violin and the "we really need to release this" ubiquitous Bruch/Mendelssohn violin concerto combination with the excellent Gewandhausorchester Leipzig under the baton of Kurt Masur (actually, it is a very good disc indeed!). The Teldec CD was released as Bruch/Mendelssohn - Violin Concertos.

Around 1993, the "major" classical music labels started to run out of cash after the crazy late 1980s feeding frenzy, which may account for the fact that only one CD from Teldec/Vengerov appeared each year until he left the Teldec stable as that brand (along with Erato and Finlandia) folded into Warner and disappeared until the reissue fairy waved her wand in the 2000s.

From 1994 we have Prokofiev's violin concerto 1 and Shostakovich's violin concerto 1 with the LSO under Rostropovich. The award-winning original CD was Prokofiev/Shostakovich - Violin Concertos - fantastic!. 1995 brought us the Tchaikovsky violin concerto coupled with the less than familiar Glazunov concerto. This CD featured the Berlin Phil under Claudio Abbado. It's very good and was first around as Tchaikovsky/Glazunov - Violin Concertos.

1996 brought us the umpteenth recording of the wonderful Sibelius violin concerto coupled with Nielsen's. This is certainly a great recording with Vengerov being backed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra during Barenboim's tenure Sibelius/Nielsen - Violin Concertos; hear this CD for the Nielsen as much as the Sibelius! 1997 arrived and Vengerov's release that year was the CD featuring the second violin concertos from Prokofiev & Shostakovich with the LSO and Rostropovich. Maybe not quite as sparky as the first concerto disc, its still very good indeed Prokofiev/Shostakovich - Second Violin Concertos.

Nothing was released in 1998, but 1999 saw a release featuring Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the Brahm's violin concerto - an excellent live recording in front of a silent audience (of recording engineers?). This disc is filled up with Brahms' third violin sonata, with Barenboim as the pianist. I think that this is a benchmark modern recording of these works in excellent sound; a truly wonderful release.

By 2000, the game was up with Vengerov, Teldedc, and Warner said goodbye to him (and EMI said hello). The last CD in this box is Dvorak's violin concerto with Masur and the New York Philharmonic, a remarkable live recording - it's really excellent. The CD closes with Elgar's sonata Op.82, featuring the pianist Revital Chachamov. It's not an odd coupling, as Vengerov and company emphasise the Brahmsian nature of these works. Dvorak - Violin Concerto was the original highly-regarded release.

The box has a brief booklet, no compensation for the fact that Warner could have easily reproduced the original notes at minimal cost, and this annoys me enough to dock ½ a star from what would have been a 5* review. I can't do that, so 4* it is.

Do be aware that several of these CDs have appeared on the Warner Apex and Elatus imprints and in several other forms. This box is the best way to obtain exposure to a very talented violinist in his early, fresh, enthusiasm.

Very highly recommended indeed!
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Mr. Mark A. Meldon

Location: Somerset UK

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