SHCHEDRIN Concerto Cantabile
STRAVINSKY Violin Concerto
TCHAIKOVSKY Serenade Melancolique
EMI Classics CDC5 56966
This is a welcome programme, with Stravinsky's concerto the only item widely
familiar, though in its time it was quite a hard nut to crack, and is far
more radical than Shchedrin's recent concerto, premiered by Maxim Vengerov
in 1998. This is undemanding, expressive romantic music, intended unusually
for violin solo with a full sized string orchestra, as given here. Three
movements, the first and last slow. The thematic material is brought together
at the end where, says the composer, "the violin should come to resemble
a shepherd's pipe", recalling the sound of shepherds' tunes floating across
the river during his childhood. Vengerov is recorded forward, supported by
the rich tone of the massed strings of the LSO. It will give a lot of pleasure.
The astringency of the Stravinsky which follows is, at first, a welcome contrast.
But here I soon found it too comfortable and cushioned, with the soloist
forward, as is the norm with most concerto studio recordings. I always find
that jarring at first and requiring adjustment for one who, as Editor of
Seen&Heard, listens regularly to
live music making. (I have a peculiar idiosyncrasy, no doubt, in that I always
listen more attentively to what lies behind the obvious foreground.)
Needless to say, Vengerov copes with all the difficulties as if they didn't
exist and Rostropovich with the LSO provides a warm orchestral surrounding
within which he displays his skill and always impeccably beautiful tone,
but it is short on tension. Afterwards, the return to Tchaikowsky (composed
for Leopold Auer, maybe in preparation for the violin concerto which followed
a few years later) is no drastic contrast, its romantic melancholy not from
so different a world as might have been.
Worth collecting for the Shchedrin, for those who revel in romantic violin
concertos, but not persuasive for the Stravinsky, which is the most important
and longest item in this only hour-long CD.
Peter Grahame Woolf