Violin Concerto in A minor, Op.82
Violin Concerto in D, Op.35
Souvenir d’un lieu cher, Op.42 [arr. Glazunov]
Vadim Gluzman (violin)
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
Recorded August 2007 in Grieg Hall, Bergen, Norway
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: May 2008
CD No: BIS
Duration: 71 minutes
With his rich tone, expansive and expressive phrasing and dazzling dexterity, there can be little doubting that Vadim Gluzman is a very complete violinist.
Glazunov’s compact and alluring Violin Concerto begins the disc, Gluzman’s stylish command of his instrument shaping the musical line with enough fluctuation to suggest that this is a spontaneous rather than a studio-bound performance. It’s a most engaging account, the violinist relishing Glazunov’s romance- and fantasy-etched writing and also enjoying a sympathetic and detailed accompaniment from the Bergen Philharmonic and Andrew Litton. The feeling of a ‘real’ performance is enhanced by the soloist’s dubious intonation between 9’42” and 9’44”, which will detract on further listens, but the performance as a whole is stimulating and enjoyable. (It’s a shame that this one-movement concerto is not track-listed into its recognisable sections.)
Glazunov’s Violin Concerto doesn’t quite enjoy the acclaim or popularity it deserves; but there’s no shortage of takers for Tchaikovsky’s example. Andrew Litton and his orchestra solicit a most felicitous accompaniment, always supportive and always pleasing, the woodwind principals bringing much that is characterful. Gluzman contributes much energy and intensity, not afraid to dig into the notes without becoming too throbbing or overwrought and also avoiding rhythmic stasis but introducing fluctuations of pulse that avoid contrivance (and which require an alert conductor and orchestra to ensure a truly collaborative approach). It’s a performance that is warmly Romantic and dashing but also appreciative of the work’s more-Classical aspects.
This attractively “Golden Age” performance – Gluzman’s imaginative approach is most welcome – is not afraid to show passion (Litton a willing accomplice in this) or tenderness (the second movement ‘Canzonetta’ is rhapsodically expressive). But the clincher is the finale, which is taken remarkably fast (and with the ‘traditional’ cuts now frowned upon) – yet such is Gluzman’s poise and clarity that all the notes are cleanly articulated and the slower sections are introduced as remarkably integral.
This very impressive performance, handsomely recorded, is one that ‘refreshes the parts…’ and Gluzman is also persuasive in the three-movement Souvenir (the first one, ‘Méditation’, being Tchaikovsky’s first thoughts for the concerto’s slow movement), as orchestrated by Glazunov from the violin-and-piano originals. To complete a distinguished release, it should be noted that Gluzman plays the Stradivarius once owned by Leopold Auer – he who gave the first performance of Tchaikovsky’s Concerto.