Violin Concerto in D major, Op.35
Violin Concerto in E minor
David Garrett (violin)
Russian National Orchestra conducted by Mikhail Pletnev
Reviewed by: Bob Hazeldine
Reviewed: March 2002
CD No: DG 471 428-2
David Garrett, like so many of today’s young-generation virtuosi, is supremely gifted. In this fresh account of Tchaikovsky’s often-recorded concerto he has the benefit of a detailed accompaniment from Mikhail Pletnev and the Russian National Orchestra. Garrett favours a lyrical account of Tchaikovsky’s elegant piece, which is peppered with rhythmic bounce and accented interjection. Garrett’s tone is not the most ingratiating in that it is slightly wiry. He can though produce a sweet vibrato to contrast with more rough-toned attack.
This is a reading of the Tchaikovsky that mixes lyrical supplication with virile movement; the result is a less taciturn reading than is often the case, there being more romantic ardour than classical reticence. In the slow movement Garrett employs more sultry, seductive colours. The finale is exciting and articulate if, surprisingly, given with ’traditional’ cuts. Pletnev produces orchestral support that is attentive to Garrett and interesting in itself, if occasionally precious.
The concerto by Jules Conus (1869-1942) is a rather undistinguished piece in that its themes may be soulful but are not especially memorable. It is a caricature of the ’Romantic Concerto’, its gestures are big, and its heart is worn on its sleeve. Garrett makes a strong case for it by investing its expansive phrases with a mix of commitment and discretion that should earn it the occasional listen; Pletnev obtains vibrant playing from his orchestra in a concerto that often sounds like a violin set-piece from a nineteenth-century ballet.
Decent sound finds the soloist a little further back than normal, which is welcome, and orchestral detail is clear although violins are a little thin in forte passages and the bass is a tad muddy. Those with a box of Kleenex handy will love the Conus!