LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
WORKS: Violin Concertos
PERFORMER: Vladimir Spivakov (violin)RPO/Yuri Temirkanov
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 60990 2 DDD
With 60 recordings of the Tchaikovsky concerto already on CD, a version has to be unusual to be picked out specially. I don’t feel this is it. There are good points, including some tart contributions from an attentive Royal Philharmonic wind section. A few more four-square passages lack that riveting raspiness, of say, a Mravinsky old-style Melodiya recording. Here both soloist and conductor toy with time, stretching bits (a la Pathetique) beyond what die material really wants to stand, and generating an unwarranted insecurity. If you like your Tchaikovsky fluid, OK. The sound seems a bit dry at the start.
The coupling (not available elsewhere) is a different matter. Risk-taking may mar Tchaikovsky, yet make for distinctive Prokofiev. The first concerto dates from wartime, when the composer was still an enfant terrible. Folk elements make their entry in many guises, and Spivakov milks these to the full in a technical tour deforce. The piece ranges from fairytale mock-lyricism to a Romeo and Juliet swagger, and Temirkanov stitches it all together cleverly. The close of the first movement is otherworldly, the soloist’s chuntering finale as effective as its final evanescence: an inventive reading, and great fun. Roderick Dunnett