Composer: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer: Julia Fischer
Orchestra: Russian National Orchestra
Conductor: Yakov Kreizberg
SPARS Code: DDD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: APE (image+cue)
Size: 333 MB
01. Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35: I. Allegro moderato
02. Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35: II. Canzonetta: Andante
03. Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35: III. Finale: Allegro vivacissimo
04. Serenade melancolique, Op. 26
05. Valse – Scherzo, Op. 34
06. Souvenir d’un lieu cher, Op. 42: No. 1. Meditation
07. Souvenir d’un lieu cher, Op. 42: No. 2. Scherzo
08. Souvenir d’un lieu cher, Op. 42: No. 3. Melodie
Move over, Heifetz
After hearing glowing reviews of this recording, I had high expectations. Often these expectations lead to disappointment, but not in this case. I am an owner of over 3000 classical albums including over a dozen recordings of the warhorse Tchaikovsky violin concerto. I can’t recall how many times I’ve heard this performed live. I am pleased to report that this recording is THE ONE. It is a fantastic combination of superlative sound quality (both in stereo and in SACD) and artistry. The orchestra and the soloist are in perfect balance. She does not bring any unusual interpretation to this well-loved piece. But she plays with stunning virtuosity and technique that is beyond reproach. Her intonation is spot on, and the tempi in the first movement and the finale are brisk and refreshing. The second movement is a real Canzonetta without too much personal liberty taken for reinterpretation as is the offputting recent recording by Joshua Bell. As to the recording engineering and mastering, this one is just right, and I feel like I have the best seat in the house in a concert hall.
The other pieces are just as beautifully played. I gasped from the tender beauty of the Souvenir d’un lieu cher Melodie.
This is a MUST HAVE addition to anyone with a SACD classical music library.
Move over Heifetz-Reiner. There is a new standard for Tchaikovsky violin concertos. And as a bonus, the sound quality is SUPERB.
One of the Best
Julia Fischer is one of the finest violinists around, and this recording is one of the best of Tchiakovsky’s popular Violin Concerto. Ms. Fischer plays with great fire, equally from emotion as well as from intellect, while most others are capable of only the former. To her, this music is worth doing as well as it can be, which means emphasizing the archetecture of the concerto and the relationship of the three other pieces on this disc to it. Ms Fischer plays the complete, uncut concerto with all the repeats in the first and third movements intact, which displays the formal balance of the work. Other violinists cut these repeats, which seems to say they merely want to barnstorm through the piece, placing emphasis on themselves. This is frankly what Heifetz and many others do, not taking the piece seriously as the interesting work it is. By the way, most of Ms Fischer’s other recordings are of an equally high value, such as her recording of the Brahms “Double”, also with Mr Kreitzberg and the Russian National Orchestra.
For many years before I had heard this disc, however, this work was just a fashionable warhorse I never listened to anymore. I used to own the Heifetz/Reiner, but I got tired of it and of the music itself. Gradually, though, I wondered if there might be a better way to play the piece which presented it as music rather than emphasizing it as a collection of tawdry tunes you’ve heard a million times. The wind parts seemed important for their timbre, for example, but it seemed no one focused on them. No one, that is, until I heard this recording, the reviews of which seemed to describe a performance of exactly the sort I wanted. Think of Mravinsky’s classic accounts of Symphonies 4,5,6 with the old Lenningrad Phil on DG with their lean textures and attention to detail. But, you also had to bring out the winds. That is part of the accomplishment of Yakov Kreitzberg, a conductor I’d never heard of, but who was obviously one of the most outstanding young conductors of his generation. (I say “was” because tragically, Mr. Kreitzberg left us in March of 2011. What a loss to music!) Here, this Russian-American master leads his excellent Russian orchestra with great skill and aplomb, presenting this music in a completely convincing way. This is the performance I’d hoped for, because it lets the music speak for itself, and it speaks very eloquently with no need of any exaggeration. We shouldn’t forget that Tchiakovsky’s favorite was Mozart.
The three companion pieces on this disc are all just as well played in performances which simply present them as interesting in themselves as well as for their connection to the concerto. This is particularly true of the last of the three, the lesser-known “Souvenir,” which begins with what is apparently the original slow movement of the concerto, and which is very well played by Mr Kreitzberg’s piano accompaniment of Ms Fischer’s beautifully played part. All of these brief works are more than just fillers, and they’re all played as well and as interestingly as the concerto.
Finally, the SACD sound is a great plus, and it increases the listener’s enjoyment and understanding of music that should be taken much more seriously than as just virtuoso fodder, and Ms Fischer and Yakov Kreitzberg must be congratulated for accomplishing this. This is the recording to live with.