SHOSTAKOVICH; TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concertos
Although not trumpeted anywhere on the sleeve, the booklet-notes claim Linus Roth’s recording as ‘the original echt Tchaikovsky version’ of his evergreen Violin Concerto. Based on Henle’s Urtext of the piano reduction, nine changes are made from the usual score, of which the booklet cites just four, among them a slur lasting four notes instead of six and a couple of notes in the double-stopped passage (track 4, from 8'21") played an octave higher. It’s pretty minimal stuff. The only significant change is in the Canzonetta, where at bar 40 (track 5, 2'11") the usual score instructs the violinist to remove the mute which had been deployed for the opening phrases. It’s not wholly new – my Eulenberg score (2007) doesn’t contain it either – and James Ehnes and Jennifer Koh also keep the mute on for the entire movement.
But what of Roth’s performance? His tone is strong and dark, with plenty of sinew, even if his playing can be over-emphatic compared with Ehnes’s finer account. Roth takes a good two minutes longer over the first movement, putting him closer to Koh’s ruminative reading. Sadly, Roth is not helped by an over-reverberant recording in LSO St Lukes which muddies the orchestral contributions.
The Tchaikovsky is coupled with Shostakovich’s Second Concerto, given a gritty, deliberate reading, without the hair-raising excitement or sardonic bite of the Oistrakh/Kondrashin partnership that gave the work’s 1967 premiere.