Vengerov plays Dvorák & Elgar

Review by: Dan Davis

Artistic Quality: 10

Sound Quality: 10

The Dvorák Concerto always has been on the fringe of the repertoire, never matching the Tchaikovsky or the other big guns in the Romantic concerto arsenal, but Maxim Vengerov makes you wonder why it isn’t as popular. He seizes its varied opportunities for display, sings its gorgeous melodies with rapt concentration, and paints its many poetic moments with touching lyric fervor. A good example of the latter is the way he sings the opening of the Adagio–as if his violin were the world’s greatest vocalist. The opening movement is played with tremendous drive and the Finale with an engaging lightness, dancing all the way.

Vengerov’s technical facility is beyond praise; the passion driving his playing is limitless. With Kurt Masur and his New York Philharmonic providing the ultimate in lush support, this recording sets the standard by which all others must be judged. It’s all the more remarkable for being a live concert recording; even the sound is top-drawer, capturing the emotional content of the music and presenting an accurate tonal picture with a deep soundstage.

The Elgar Sonata may seem an odd choice for a discmate, but Vengerov and his excellent pianist, Revital Chachamov, bring out the Brahmsian, often rhapsodic elements of the piece to make the linkage work. This is not a typically British version of the piece–dynamics and tempos are extreme, and Vengerov’s flexible rhythms may surprise those used to more straight-laced approaches. But he plays with such intensity and so burnished and opulent a tone that criticism is silenced. Re-hearings convince you of the rightness of his vision, which finds more drama and depth in the Elgar Sonata than most interpreters. This is a disc that demands–and justifiably gets–superlatives.

Buy Now from Arkiv Music

Recording Details:

Reference Recording: this one, Suk/Ancerl (Supraphon)

ANTON DVORÁK - Violin Concerto
EDWARD ELGAR - Violin Sonata

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