WORKS: Violin Concerto
PERFORMER: Vadim Repin (violin); Kirov Orchestra/ Valery Gergiev
CATALOGUE NO: 473 343-2
Spontaneity ought to be the keynote in the Tchaikovsky Concerto, and Vadim Repin’s dark, searching nature may not be ideally suited to it. He is right to seek out irresolution between the themes; I like the way he hovers before launching into his first melody and the second certainly has room for a paler cast of thought. Yet it hardly flows like Joshua Bell’s inspired rhapsody (Decca, not currently available), and a little more centred sweetness would not go amiss.
Gergiev is of the same mind as his soloist, with some bullish drives towards changes of tempo resulting in momentary lack of co-ordination. The full-orchestral polonaise comes across strangely; as in the Kirov Sheherazade (reviewed last November), funny things happen to the sound – at the post-production stage? – and although this time there doesn’t seem to be any added reverberation, the climaxes are congested. Repin is best either when in isolated, melancholy mood – as in the slow movement – or when standing alone, adding a few frills and surprising high spirits to the big cadenza; the ‘personages with long ears’ from Saint-Saëns’s menagerie briefly join the action.
Special interest will be focused on the Miaskovsky Concerto, which has not been recorded for a long time. An unexpected product of 1938, it’s a safe and often placid crowd-pleaser, but authentically reflects the brooding but likeable personality of its composer, and it’s unaffectedly treated here throughout. The woodwind pastorals of the outer movements are most effective; play the one in the finale unannounced to a friend, and Vaughan Williams will no doubt be the guessed-at composer. David Nice