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A Memorable Disc

Vadim Gluzman plays Tchaikovsky and Glazunov -
enjoyed by

'Vadim Gluzman is a violinist of remarkable gifts.'

Tchaikovsky - Glazunov Violin Concertos. Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra / Andrew Litton. © 2008 BIS Records AB

While listening to this admirable CD from BIS (SACD 1432), I was bombarded by my laptop with visions of far-off galaxies disturbing enough to curdle any mind. Occasionally there was a succession of patterns that attracted me as possible wallpaper ideas for my Cairo flat; but finally I bent my head over the keyboard and concentrated hard on QWERTYUIOP, so as not to be distracted from the wondrous sounds thought up by these two Russian composers. If the glorious culture of pre-1914 St Petersburg is largely due to the inspiration of Catherine the Great, that gifted German with morals hardly mentionable to a Queen Victoria, I must delight in her vagaries as much as in her policies.

There are virtually three concertos on this disc. The first is of course Tchaikovsky's, familiar enough, but never heard too frequently to stale the originality of the solo part or the ever-fresh orchestral writing, with its carolling woodwind and luxuriant strings. The second is also by Tchaikovsky, made up of a rejected slow movement for the Op 35 work, followed by a flashing Scherzo;

Listen -- Tchaikovsky: Scherzo. Presto giocoso (Souvenir)
(track 3, 0:01-1:02) © 2008 BIS Records AB

there ensues a finale of thoughtful melodic lines. Originally published for violin and piano as Souvenir d'un lieu cher, it was the result of a partial summer on the estate of Nadezhda von Meck, Tchaikovsky's elusive patroness.

The Souvenir was orchestrated in 1896 by the ever-resourceful Glazunov. Whether he also altered the violin part or changed the proportions of the work I am in no position to say. Whatever the facts, the result is a great success, strongly recommended to any violinist willing to stray from the beaten path. The one-movement Glazunov concerto is only a minute longer than the Souvenir. It has a wealth of sinuous melody.

Listen -- Glazunov: Violin Concerto
(track 1, 0:03-1:01) © 2008 BIS Records AB

Its two parts are separated by a testing cadenza, when fanfares introduce a final section of hair-raising technical challenges.

Vadim Gluzman is a violinist of remarkable gifts. He plays the 1690 Stradivari violin once owned by Leopold Auer, and conjures from it all the eloquence and brilliance for which the Russian school has long been famous. The fine-spun lyricism of the three works is never stinted, and it is only in the breakneck finale of Op 35 that Gluzman betrays the date of his birth. Not that there is any risk Gluzman will break his neck whatever tempo he adopts.

Listen -- Tchaikovsky: Finale. Allegro vivacissimo (Violin Concerto)
(track 7, 0:00-1:20) © 2008 BIS Records AB

As son of those Shetland Isles that voted strongly against the European Union, I can only congratulate the Bergen PO under Andrew Litton on its political independence and splendid contribution to a memorable disc.

Copyright © 4 September 2008 Robert Anderson, Cairo, Egypt


Tchaikovsky and Glazunov Violin Concertos

BIS-SACD-1432 DSD SACD Surround / SACD Stereo / CD Stereo NEW RELEASE 70'58" 2007, 2008 BIS Records AB

Vadim Gluzman, violin
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
Andrew Litton, conductor

Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936): Violin Concerto in A minor Op 82 (Moderato - Andante sostenuto - Allegro)

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893): Souvenir d'un lieu cher Op 42, arranged for violin and orchestra by Alexander Glazunov (Méditation: Andante molto cantabile; Scherzo: Presto giocoso; Mélodie: Moderato con moto)

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D Op 35 (Allegro moderato - Moderato assai; Canzonetta: Andante; Finale: Allegro vivacissimo)


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