Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Tchaikovsky, Sitkovetsky, Marriner|
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra
Great Romeo and Juliet, Good Violin Concerto
Robert L. Berkowitz | Natick, MA United States | 04/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though this CD is primarily devoted to Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, my enthusiasm is for this performance of The Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture.
I enjoy this recording of the Violin Concerto, but it does not displace my favorite (which is the Igor Oistrakh performance with David Oistrakh conducting the Moscow Philharmonic, only availble on vinyl Melodiya LP). Sitkovetsky lingers lovingly over the melodic passages in a way that would probably be more inspiring in the concert hall but can be over-the-top in a recording that one might listen to repeatedly. The tone of his violin, though admired by many reviewers, strikes me as just a bit nasal. Also, Sitkovetsky has chosen the modern practice of sticking to Tchaikovsky's score instead of making the cuts and adjustments suggested by Leopold Auer (the teacher of both Heifetz and Milstein). I believe Auer's small changes in the third movement really improve the work and I wish more recordings would go back to that practice.
The Meditation for Violin and Orchestra is a welcome filler. For categorizing CDs, it is welcome to have the Violin Concerto on an all-Tchaikovsky disc.
However, what repeatedly brings me back to this disc is the performance of the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture. Though the main theme is so familiar, I wasn't that familiar with the work as a whole. The first time I heard it on this disc, I became totally enthralled with it. That experience sent me back to my CD library to see if I had any other recordings. I found another (Daniel Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony) and had to play it to answer the question how I managed not to be more familiar with this piece. The answer was clear. By comparison, the Barenboim/CSO performance was lifeless next to this one with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields conducted by Neville Marriner.
I then decided to try to find the "best" recording of the Romeo and Juliet Overture and surveyed several [three performances by Leonard Bernstein (an older and newer performance with the New York Philharmonic and one with the Israel Philharmonic), Valery Gergiev conducting the Kirov Orchestra and Riccardo Muti conducting the Philharmonia]. I also read some reviews. Victor Carr of "Classics Today" said this recording was "yet another Romeo and Juliet" and was therefore an uninspiring conclusion to this disc. He noted it was "pretty good" but no match for the Bernstein/ISO (and Muti/Philadephia). I respectfully disagree. Though I would rank Bernstein/ISO and Muti/Philharmonia (I haven't heard Muti/Philadelphia) very high up, this recording is in that lofty company. The Penguin Guide described this performance as "fresh and direct". True, but it was more than that for me. Both the Barenboim/CSO and Gergiev/Kirov performances paled in comparison to this one, and both of them have received outstanding reviews from many.
There are probably many other especially worthy recordings of Romeo and Juliet, but this is the one I will turn to, and I thought someone should speak up for it."