Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Shostakovich,Tchaikovsky
WORKS: Violin Concerto
PERFORMER: Ilya Gringolts (violin); Israel PO/Itzhak Perlman
CATALOGUE NO: 471 616-2
It’s hard to think of a more contrasted pair of violin concertos than Tchaikovsky’s Romantic wallow and Shostakovich’s searingly dramatic work, yet they make a popular coupling on CD. The Russian violinist and BBC New Generation artist Ilya Gringolts (now 20) therefore sets himself a formidable challenge in choosing them for his debut CD as DG’s latest signing. They have already become calling-cards for his slightly older compatriots Maxim Vengerov and Vadim Repin, and Oleg Kagan’s pairing of the same two works on Live Classics won David Nice’s praise here last October. But Gringolts brings his own personal qualities to the music. Under the direction of the man who can claim to have discovered him, Itzhak Perlman, Gringolts combines virtuosic energy with security of tone in the Tchaikovsky. Even if the Israel Philharmonic is sometimes a little over-brusque in its articulation, Gringolts keeps his cool while indulging the work’s Romantic warmth and passion. But it is with the Shostakovich in which he really shines. His is a gripping performance from beginning to end, bringing poignancy and emotional commitment to the two slow movements, a nocturne and passacaglia, and biting intensity to the scherzo and ‘Burlesque’ finale. Fantasy, control and imagination add up to an auspicious debut indeed. Matthew Rye