Violin Concerto in D, Op.61
Sonata for Piano and Violin in A, Op.47 (Kreutzer)
Vadim Repin (violin)
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Martha Argerich (piano)
Concerto recorded February 2007 in the Grosse Saal of the Musikverein, Vienna; Sonata recorded June 2007 in Auditorio “Stello Molo”, Lugano
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: January 2008
CD No: DG 477 6596 (2 CDs)
Duration: 84 minutes
This is an uncommonly direct performance, one meticulously graded, balanced and shaped (Repin’s trills are immaculate) – and very well recorded, too – that speaks of conversational teamwork between soloist, conductor and orchestra, a performance that might be heard as a throwback to, say, Menuhin, (David) Oistrakh and Schneiderhan – Repin, in fact, studied this work with Menuhin and he appreciates the need to keep the pulse of the first movement alive, even when sinking into reverie. In this he is aided by Muti and the orchestra: their variegated and expressive ‘accompaniment’ is a glorious bedrock for Repin to effect his uncluttered but meaningful approach to the solo part – his gleaming tone (which can become darker as required) and unimpeachable intonation being another joy in unfolding a traditional and relevant interpretation, one confirmed by the use of Fritz Kreisler’s cadenzas, here given with rich timbre and expression. With the slow movement not allowed to dawdle, but not rushed either – and with enough intimacy to contrast it with the more ‘public’ first movement – and a finale moderate enough to reveal its articulacy and propulsive enough to beckon its bucolic dance, this is a stellar account of this wonderful work, the strength of this version being a lack of novelty: no need to be ‘authentic’ or divisive. Finely honed good manners are enough – and very satisfying.
Repin and Martha Argerich – now there’s a tempting partnership: and one that doesn’t disappoint. In the magnificent ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata – correctly identified by DG as being for Piano and Violin (even if the violinist starts the piece off) – these two artists appear to have hit it off. Repin matches the music’s demonstration and Argerich (who recorded the ‘Kreutzer’ with the veteran Ivry Gitlis for EMI Japan a few years ago now) matches him; both musicians find fire and lyrical intensity, the pianist a model of clarity and personality. For this listener, Menuhin is once again of importance – his recording with Wilhelm Kempff (also DG) may find both musicians to be fallible but it is full of wonderful insights – and while Repin and Argerich are far more youthful in their approach, there is a similar underlying concern that Beethoven should get top billing. From Repin and Argerich (and also Dumay and Pires – would you believe, also on DG!) the notes leap of the page but with poise and consideration – and with time to observe the all-important exposition repeat in the first movement, otherwise the extended Theme and Variations second movement can seem too long: in fact, here, with tempos decidedly quicker than the norm (and convincingly so) this movement is a few seconds shorter than the first. Argerich has lost none of her famed dexterity. The finale, announced with command by the pianist, while athletic, also reveals the music’s deeper side in beguiling fashion. The recording, although very present, allows air to circulate, and the musicians are given an equal balance.
This release is not just about Repin – it’s also about Beethoven, Muti, the Vienna Phil, and Argerich – but it is also the violinist’s first recording for Deutsche Grammophon and could not be a better launch.