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Dvořák • Khachaturian: Violin Concertos

Rachel Barton Pine (violin); Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Teddy Abram (Avie)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Dvořák  Khachaturian
Dvořák: Violin Concerto; Khachaturian: Violin Concerto
Rachel Barton Pine (violin); Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Teddy Abram
Avie AV2411   73:14 mins

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Composed in 1879, and revised thoroughly over the next three years, Dvořák’s Violin Concerto is both conservative and radical. On the one hand, it clearly displays the influence of his mentor Brahms in the first movement and also makes spirited use of his ‘Slavonic dance’ manner in the finale; on the other, there is real originality in the expressive link between first and second movements, and placing the cadenza at the start of the work was an audacious move that five years later Brahms adopted at the start of his Double Concerto.

This is an excellent performance. At times the accompanying in the first movement might seem a little indulgent, but it is well within acceptable limits. Rachel Barton Pine’s playing is superb with outstanding purity of tone and a sense of passionate involvement that will certainly repay repeated listening. Where the performance falls short is in the first half or so of the finale, which is a touch staid and lacking in fun.

Composed in 1940, Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto – direct in expression and unashamedly Romantic – rapidly became established in the 20th-century repertoire. Barton Pine delivers another terrific performance blending high energy with exquisitely focused tone that is often reminiscent of the work’s dedicatee, David Oistrakh. Teddy Abrams directs with understanding and involvement and the orchestra’s woodwind soloists shine particularly in the first two movements. A slightly more ambient sound would have helped the orchestral detail, but as a whole these performances are extremely accomplished.

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Jan Smaczny