Tchaikovksy

COMPOSERS: Tchaikovksy
LABELS: PentaTone
ALBUM TITLE: Tchaikovksy
WORKS: Violin Concerto; Valse – Scherzo, Op. 34; Sérénade mélancolique; Souvenir d’un lieu cher, Op. 42
PERFORMER: Julia Fischer (violin); Russian National Orchestra/Yakov Kreizberg
CATALOGUE NO: 5186 095 (hybrid CD/SACD)
If you thought Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto was just a succession of pretty melodies, then Julia Fischer’s interpretation will make you think again. Like the great David Oistrakh, she has a notable way of giving the violin a speaking intonation and pausing for thought in mid-flow, so that Tchaikovsky’s lengthy first movement is punctuated by a series of interior monologues. Not that this should in any way suggest undue seriousness: Fischer always knows when to lighten the mood, or how best to judge the tension and release of a musical paragraph, and in this she is supported to the hilt by a personable but never too overbearing Russian National Orchestra under the baton of Yakov Kreizberg, likeable from the opening string phrase. The long cadenza, though, is the heart and soul of the movement, beautifully rounded off by a magical pair of trills before the orchestral flautist steals back in with the principal melody.

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There’s subtle duetting with the first clarinet in the most introspective – but again never too heavy-going – of Canzonettas, and the two other slow movements on the disc, including the Meditation which was Tchaikovsky’s original candidate for the centrepiece of the Concerto, are soulfully done, with sensitive partnering from Kreizberg in the violin-and piano pieces and an especially effective dying fall, with more superb trilling, for the Sérénade mélancolique. In the Concerto’s vivacious finale and the headlong Valse-Scherzo, Fischer makes light of the technical difficulties with spoton pitching throughout; there isn’t an aspect of any of these works in which this world-class virtuoso fails to excel. Pentatone’s hybrid CD/SACD is superbly natural in both formats, with some understated spotlighting of the characterful orchestral woodwind. David Nice