Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor
WORKS: Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor; Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances
PERFORMER: Geneviève Laurenceau (violin); Toulouse Capitole Orchestra/Tugan Sokhiev
CATALOGUE NO: V 5256
Dark introspection, the most significant of several qualities that connects these scores by Prokofiev and Rachmaninov, is in short supply here. Let’s begin with the more creditable of the performances. In the Prokofiev, violinist Geneviève Laurenceau is commanding, ardent, colourful and intonation perfect. She makes some of the passages, like the sinister jogtrot of the first-movement development and a bright, clarinet-led interlude at the heart of the piece, sound like they’ve never done before; and the finale begins with splendid swagger. But given exaggerated swings of tempos, the dots don’t join up in this hard-to-stitch-together concerto: the dreamy lyricism in the first movement is too haltingly knowing, and there’s no careering towards the ultimate abyss – another element which might have connected Prokofiev’s final dance with Rachmaninov’s.
The Toulouse Capitole Orchestra has its virtues, not least those bright, caressing woodwind who launch the central reverie of Rachmaninov’s first symphonic dance. But the crucial first trumpet is not in the same league, pecking away at what should be legato lines here, and missing the acerbity of Prokofiev’s finale. It doesn’t help that the brass, along with the castanets, are recessed in the recording. And Tugan Sokhiev so often seems to miss the point: he’s loud when Rachmaninov’s score says soft, heavy when it needs flexible fantasy, and insensitive to what’s behind the often simple notes. As a result, the work seems more commonplace than masterly, as it truly sounds with Yuri Temirkanov, Neeme Järvi or (recent and best) Vasily Petrenko. A disappointment after Sokhiev’s much more characterful Musorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition. David Nice