Vadim Guzman performs Prokofiev’s Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 2

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COMPOSERS: Prokofiev
ALBUM TITLE: Prokofiev
WORKS: Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 2; Sonata for Solo Violin
PERFORMER: Vadim Gluzman (violin); Estonian National Symph Orch/Neeme Järvi

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Vadim Gluzman’s concerto partnership with Neeme Järvi has always been spellbinding, and this stunning disc lives up to expectations. There’s a tension in both concertos, Gluzman often playing one notch above Prokofiev’s suggested dynamics, but it works since Järvi and his Estonian players always match him for focused imagination. Even the faster-than-moderato tempo at the start of the First Concerto’s finale is a startling success because Gluzman makes the melody sound endless; all lines are perfectly directed towards their goals.

In the more acerbic and dark Second Concerto the Stravinsky wind and brass choruses are in perfect dialogue or balance with the soloist. Gluzman’s pure intonation is a constant glory, haloed in natural sound rather than pulled up front. It’s a thing of great beauty in the Second Concerto’s ambiguous slow movement and at its most breathtaking in the late Sonata for solo violin, adapted from a unison exercise for violin students. Though the musical language is simple, as befits the work’s origin, the finale here is a dazzler: not just con brio but brillante, winning admiration not just for Gluzman but also for the Stradivarius once played by the great Leopold Auer.

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David Nice