Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto; Serenade melancolique; Valse-Scherzo

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COMPOSERS: Tchaikovsky
LABELS: Erato
WORKS: Violin Concerto; Serenade melancolique; Valse-Scherzo
PERFORMER: Pierre Amoyal (violin)Philharmonia/Charles Dutoit
CATALOGUE NO: 2292-45971-2 ADD
This year’s celebrations of the centenary of Tchaikovsky’s death will see a stream of new and reissued recordings swelling the existing floodtide in the catalogue; and each one will certainly have to justify its place. From an early batch released by Erato, Pierre Amoyal’s 1982 recording of the Violin Concerto does so by the skin of its teeth. The performance of the Concerto itself is unremarkable. In its sinuous rubato, its glutinous double-stopping and its heavily accented upbeats, it is always just on the wrong side of sentimentality. Dutoit and the Philharmonia are willing accomplices with an orchestral accompaniment which is seldom surprised by joy.

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The main justification for this release, though, is Amoyal’s performance of the little nine-minute Serenade melancolique, not readily available elsewhere. The violin’s viola voice sings out its folk melody, elaborated by properly sentimental variation, and held in fine balance with some sweet wind solos and a dark bloom of cellos. The Valse-Scherzo, too, is hardly over-recorded. As typical encore material, this somewhat flat-footed performance forms a fitting coda to a disappointing Tchaikovsky programme. Hilary Finch