Britten, Walton: Violin Concerto

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Britten,Walton
LABELS: Classico
WORKS: Violin Concerto
PERFORMER: Sergej Azizian (violin); Copenhagen PO/Osmo Vänskä, Giordano Bellincampi
CATALOGUE NO: CLASSCD 233
This is Sergej Azizian’s fifth recording, but his first in concertos. Formerly with the Leningrad Philharmonic, he is presently concert-master in Copenhagen. These two concertos allow him many opportunities to display his prowess, and the vivid recorded sound brings extra drama to the performances. My only real complaint is that the solo part, as so often in concertos, is recorded unrealistically closely and becomes ‘larger than life’.

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The richness and purity of Azizian’s tone is such that close scrutiny is not a damaging problem; but the balance certainly feels unnatural, particularly in the fast central movements of each concerto, and in the finale of the Walton.

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Both performances give pleasure, and the coupling is eminently sensible, since both works were composed in 1939. Azizian is most successful in maintaining the brooding intensity in the outer movements of the Britten, and he is given committed support by the Copenhagen orchestra and Vänskä. The Walton is scarcely less impressive, though perhaps the first movement lacks a little in concentration. Violin virtuosity is given a higher priority here, of course, since the music was written for Jascha Heifetz. And on this evidence there is no question that Azizian deserves to be described as a virtuoso. Terry Barfoot