Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky: Violin Concertos - Steinbacher, Dutoit
PentaTone Classics PTC 5186504
Classical - Orchestral
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto
Arabella Steinbacher, violin
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
This release arguably features the two greatest concertos ever written for the violin: performed by one of the most brilliant violinists of her generation, together with one of the finest orchestras, and under the baton of one of the world’s foremost conductors. This recording of Tchaikovsky/Mendelssohn violin concertos bears witness to the eminence of the collaboration between violinist Arabella Steinbacher, conductor Charles Dutoit and PENTATONE’s Orchestra of the Season January June 2015, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, and the result thereof.
After waiting for a long time to record these concertos with the perfect collaboration, Arabella Steinbacher didn’t waste any chance to shine with heart-felt enthusiasm and bravura in this recording. Her performance produced such a pure, yet fierce sound that it allowed the music to speak in an immediate, translucent way. Recorded in September 2014 in the magnificent Victoria Hall, Geneva, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande were totally at home with the repertoires and performed with great confidence; they were led by Dutoit, who was vivid, rhythmic and clear in his direction. The vigorous playing results in a vibrant sound that is captured perfectly in this multi channel SACD recording.
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Review by John Broggio - June 27, 2015
Coming such wonderful recordings as Bruch, Chausson, Korngold: Violin Concertos - Steinbacher and Prokofiev: Violin Concertos - Steinbacher, Petrenko this is something of a disappointment.
The booklet contains the following note from Arabella Steinbacher:
'These concertos by Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky are part of the absolute "standard repertoire" usually studied by violinists at a young age. And to be honest, although I love playing these works regularly in my concerts, I had never before felt the need to record them, unlike other, rarely played repertoire that I have recorded in the past.
However, Charles and I have performed the concertos together many times and no matter how often I play them, I realize every time again that it feels new for each successive performance - this is the magic of music.
These are simply such wonderful concertos that I was extremely happy to make this recording with him and the extraordinary Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.'
In the Mendelssohn, which opens the disc, the tempo of the first movement dwells so much on the appassionato that it frequently loses momentum; it is more almost two minutes slower than Mullova & Gardiner (Beethoven / Mendelssohn: Violin Concertos - Mullova / Gardiner). While Mullova's account may be exceptionally "alive" musically speaking, even Karajan for Mutter managed to be consistently more forward looking in his phrasing. The central Andante is again given a leisurely treatment and the music is more forgiving of such an approach. Both here and in the finale, Steinbacher shows signs of the winning sparkle that have adorned earlier recordings but the orchestral contribution is audibly not inspired.
The Tchaikovsky faces similar problems to this listener; the orchestral playing sounds lethargic by comparison to that in Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto - Fischer, Kreizberg. Again, the somewhat pedestrian tempo choices in the outer movements do not help them or Steinbacher. Compared to Julia Fischer's winning account which still jumps out of the speakers, grabbing the attention from lyrical beginning to ecstatic end, this is very much less engaging.
Good engineering goes some way to alleviating the disappointment experienced but it is not enough to recommend wholeheartedly to all but completists for this undoubtedly fine violinist.
The obvious fondness that Steinbacher feels for Dutoit & this orchestra in the concert hall has unfortunately not translated itself into the recording studio.
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