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This review is from: Shostakovich: Violin Concertos 1 & 2 (Audio CD)
There must surely come a time in everyone's musical life when listening to a work you did not previously know, suddenly stopped you doing....whatever it was you were doing...and just made you listen. This was the feeling I had on first hearing of the 1st Violin Concerto of Shostakovich, (not all that long ago, I have to confess),and which I immediately bought via Amazon, particularly as it was by a major violinist, and indeed a major Orchestra, the LSO with a conductor sadly no longer with us (Rostropovich).
The 1st Concerto is a master-work: it is easy to assimilate, but does require your patience to listen in toto. You will be amply rewarded: the opening Nocturne is serene and leads to an animated and rhythmic Scherzo, but then the real glory unfolds: a wonderfully lyrical and emotional Passacaglia, which is surely the core of the work, and gradually moves us to a superb cadenza, the Orchestra gradually reducing as the cadenza approaches, almost as if they felt they could not intrude. It is a long cadenza, but all of a sudden, without warning, it goes into a full Orchestral burlesque finale, when we are least expecting it, and which is great fun! The next 5 minutes are quite frenetic, and the end comes suddenly. This is a Concerto you will want to play again and again!
The 2nd Concerto is darker, but is still compelling: it was Shostakovich's last Concerto, is less dramatic in content and much more valedictory. The Orchestral accompaniment is more chamber-like, and the tempo is generally slower, (but there is an animated finale in the style of No. 1). The mood is different, and I have the impression it is a valedictory work, but still elegantly crafted. There are more solos for individual members of the Orchestra, and many of these are quite felicitous - the flute at the beginning of the 2nd movement, which is itself quite enchanting, is a case in point. I suspect that you may initially discard this as not being so interesting as the first. I did the same, but I have subsequently found that I should not have been so hasty.
Maxim Vengerov brings vitality and intensity to both Concertos (he is particularly moving in the Passacaglia movement), and the Orchestral accompaniment is by degrees powerful when it needs to be, and - more importantly - respectfully taking second place, again when it needs to. I would expect no less from two Russian Masters.
One sad black mark: there are no sleeve notes, hence 4 stars, not 5: Really we cannot assume people know these works and some guidance is surely necessary. However, if you do not know these works, don't hesitate to invest in them: the 1st Concerto in particular will surely convert you and you'll perhaps learn to appreciate the 2nd as I am so doing.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Oct 2013 10:55:09 BDT
Simon Mack - creative says:
no sleeve nores on the apex release - are you sure? . on all of the apex cd s i have of other recordings they always include booklet notes (albeit abridged from the original Erato release) ?
In reply to an earlier post on 2 Oct 2013 14:45:13 BDT
I obviously accept that apex cds usually include booklet notes, but this one definitely did not! As a matter of interest, neither did the Apex CD of the Shostakovich 13th Symphony: I went into the internet to get notes and a translation of the vocals!
In reply to an earlier post on 2 Oct 2013 22:26:10 BDT
Simon Mack - creative says:
oh - thats a shame re the lack of booklet notes. Vengerov is certainly marvellous in these recordings. it was a privilege to see him perform .
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