Violin Concerto

Violin Concerto

To violinists, studying and performing the Beethoven Concerto is the ultimate challenge and achievement. Vengerov says that recording it, especially under Rostropovich, his friend, mentor and frequent collaborator, is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Among the Concerto's innumerable recordings, this must be one of the greatest. Vengerov and Rostropovich are considered specialists of the romantic literature, especially that of Russia, but their Beethoven is a paradigm of classical nobility: calm, simple, elegant, inwardly expressive. Vengerov's tone is ravishing, pristinely pure, with a silvery shimmer and a golden glow; his bowing is seamless, letting him spin long, finely shaped phrases, his vibrato is focussed and intense. Playing from deep inside the music, he needs no external effects, not even slides, and gives musical meaning to every note, even in the accompanying passages. He uses his own brilliant, stylistically apt cadenzas. The first movement is stately and quite slow, as if the patrician conductor were restraining his youthfully fiery soloist; the second is serenely celestial, the third sprightly and mercurial. The Romances have a natural, lyrical flow, the dramatic sections balancing the meditative ones perfectly; the treacherous double-stops are impeccable. The orchestra is excellent, but the dynamic contrasts are excessive: the tuttis explode, so keep your finger on the volume control. <i>--Edith Eisler</i>