Elgar: Violin Concerto in B minor

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Elgar
LABELS: Virgin
WORKS: Violin Concerto in B minor
PERFORMER: Dmitri Sitkovetsky (violin)RPO/Yehudi Menuhin
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45065 2 DDD
Menuhin’s 1932 HMV recording of Elgar’s Violin Concerto with the composer conducting is a classic of the gramophone, so comparison is inevitable. As conductor, Menuhin brings a deep understanding of Elgar and the same care and subtlety of phrasing that he did as soloist. His slow movement is lovingly shaped; a tender, dreamlike, Romantic landscape. Yet, at the same time he propels the work firmly forward, adopting faster tempi than Kennedy/ Handley, and sweeping vigorously through the more rugged masculine passages. One is often reminded of Elgar’s own conducting.

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Sitkovetsky responds with silken playing and impressive technical virtuosity. He is nicely wistful in the unusual, accompanied cadenza with its pizzicato tremolando strings (quite magical here) but in the final analysis he is rather lukewarm; one misses the Menuhin poetry which distinguishes a good from a great performance. Nigel Kennedy is more ardent and the communion of soloist and orchestra, at times, is sheer rapture. This will remain my first choice amongst modern recordings. Ian Lace