Berg/Stravinsky Violin Concertos etc

Author: 
Robert Layton

Berg/Stravinsky Violin Concertos etc

  • Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, 'To the memory of an angel'
  • Concerto for Violin and Orchestra
  • Tzigane

To judge by its representation in the catalogue the Berg, once thought so intractable, enjoys a popularity that outstrips even that of the Shostakovich and Walton concertos and is second only to the Bartok Second and Prokofiev First. There are 15 current versions in The Gramophone Classical Catalogue as opposed to ten each of the Walton and the Shostakovich First.
Perlman’s account with the Boston orchestra under Ozawa (originally coupled with the Stravinsky) has long occupied a respected place in the catalogue. Writing in the March 1980 issue, EG left us in no doubt of his preference for Kyung-Wha Chung and Andre Previn (now reissued on CD – Decca, 7/90) in the Stravinsky, but was completely convinced by Perlman’s “commanding purposefulness” in the Berg. As to the recording, he wrote that “though Perlman’s violin – beautifully caught – is closer than some will like, there is no question of crude spotlighting”. Sixteen years later and in a different competitive climate, I would think his verdict (“These are both performances to put with the very finest”) still holds good, though I do find Perlman too close. So he is, too, in the Tzigane, which EG also reviewed with another Perlman version (with the Orchestre de Paris under Martinon) in October 1978, whose balance he much preferred. The present account he thought set Perlman “very firmly front-stage against a less focused orchestra”. All the same, this is playing of some stature and still among the best, even if in the Berg, Thomas Zehetmair strikes me as the more poignant; and in the Stravinsky, I would prefer Chung. Recommended.'

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