Glazunov * Prokofiev * Tchaikovsky

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Glazunov,Prokofiev,Tchaikovsky
LABELS: Signum
ALBUM TITLE: Glazunov * Prokofiev * Tchaikovsky
WORKS: Concerto Ballata, Op. 108; Chant du ménestrel, Op. 71; Mélodie; Cello Concertino, Op. 132; Variations on a Rococo Theme; Nocturne, Op. 19 No. 4
PERFORMER: Jamie Walton (cello); Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Okko Kamu
CATALOGUE NO: SIGCD 407

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In this judiciously chosen collection of Russian works, the most musically substantial item is undoubtedly Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations. Jamie Walton, keenly supported by the RPO under Okko Kamu, delivers a particularly eloquent and virtuosic account of the work, enterprisingly performing it in the composer’s original version which utilises a different ordering of the individual variations to the more familiar Fitzenhagen arrangement.

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There’s also much to admire in Walton’s fervent performance of Prokofiev’s Concertino. Especially impressive is his warm phrasing in the slow movement and the sly humour that he projects throughout the energetic Finale where once again the orchestra offers an incisive and strongly characterised accompaniment. In contrast, the partnership is far less convincing in the Concerto Ballata of Glazunov. This extended one-movement work, composed for Casals and dating from 1931, tries to recapture the ardour of the earlier better-known Violin Concerto, but lacks its melodic distinction. Admittedly Walton works hard to give a semblance of direction to the somewhat meandering lyrical lines and the rather empty rhetoric of the cadenzas. Yet coordination between soloist and the individual woodwind melodies, especially in the first section, is not always perfectly synchronised, and a rather cloudy recording perspective makes Glazunov’s tutti orchestral passages sound a little turgid. I was also a bit disappointed by Walton’s rather hurried approach to Glazunov’s wonderfully nostalgic Chant du ménestrel, whereas the same composer’s Mélodie sounds impassioned and compelling. Erik Levi