WORKS: Violin Concerto in A minor; Violin Concerto in A minor
PERFORMER: Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin); London Philharmonic/Franz Welser-Möst
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 7 54872 2 DDD
Dvorák’s Violin Concerto (1879/82) may not be as celebrated or widely performed as that for the cello, but it’s no less compelling a musical experience. Dvorák wrote it for Joachim, who, while admitting its beauties, never actually played it, demanding a scale of alteration beyond the composer’s willingness. ‘It may well be’, says Colin Kolbert in his booklet notes, ‘that the music’s emotions were too near the surface for the likes of the classically-minded Joachim, who would also have been taken aback by Dvorák’s failure to observe the conventions of musical form.’ Made famous by Auer (who first played it in St Petersburg in 1904), Elman and Heifetz, the rhapsodic Glazunov Concerto, also in A minor, is a gloriously imagined, brilliantly scored outpouring of Slavonic passion, mixing High Romantic poetry with Paganini-derived bravura. It is as essential to our understanding of the Russian musical psyche at the turn of the century as anything in Rachmaninov, Scriabin or Stravinsky. Poised eloquence, naked folk energy, high-voltage tension, soaring ardour and reflective fantasy: this is the grand conception of Zimmermann in this music. In Welser-Möst he has the most supportive of partners. And in the London Philharmonic he has the benefit of a world-class orchestra in top form. Inscribed to the memory of Nathan Milstein, this is a golden release. Ravishing sound (Mark Vigars), classy production (David Groves). Indulge yourself. You won’t find a Dvorák or Glazunov much better.