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Radulović performs Tchaikovsky

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

Violin Concerto; Variations on a Rococo Theme (arr. Cassar)
Nemanja Radulović (violin, viola), Stéphanie Fontanarosa (piano); Double Sens; Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra/Sascha Goetzel
DG 479 8089


Very much in the footsteps of Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Serbian violinist Nemanja Radulović delivers a free-flowing rhapsodic account of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, employing an impressively wide variety of tonal colouring and frequent use of rubato. Undoubtedly a charismatic player with a formidable technique, his desire to ‘freshen up’ the Tchaikovsky with his own idiosyncratic reading of the solo part is commendable. However, despite the impressive unanimity of ensemble between Radulović and the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic under Sascha Goetzel, some of the tempo fluctuations seem wilful and self-conscious. Part of the problem is that the decision on where exactly to apply the brakes, or slam on the accelerator pedal, doesn’t always make musical sense. Such wilfulness reaches a climax in the first movement cadenza which Radulović chops up into so many disparate melodic fragments that it verges on incoherence. Still, there is much to enjoy in Radulović’s poetic and beautifully poised account of the Canzonetta, and he certainly packs a considerable punch in the technical fireworks of the Finale.

Radulović also demonstrates remarkable credentials as a viola player in an unusual transcription of the Rococo Variations with the original orchestral accompaniment rearranged for a small string orchestra and piano by Yvan Cassar. Purists will no doubt find the substitution of Tchaikovsky’s characteristically flighty wind writing with the more bland sounds of the piano somewhat disconcerting. Nonetheless, there are also places in the score where this version works really imaginatively, a good example being the magical sonorities in Variation Six.

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Erik Levi