TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto Op 35. Meditation Op 42
First impressions count. The opening orchestral tutti of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto is described Allegro moderato with a metronome marking of crotchet=126. Miran Vaupotic´ barely hits crotchet=100 with the London Symphony Orchestra in this new recording, a ponderous, pedestrian start. His tentative tempo seems to affect the soloist, Korean violinist Moonkyung Lee, for her initial phrases are especially cautious. Lee has a satisfying mahogany tone but her intonation up in the stratosphere wavers perilously, especially around the staccato triplets of the first movement’s più mosso section (bar 107, 5'40"), although she attacks the trills that follow aggressively enough. Her cadenza (from 10'28") is cleanly executed but without any great interpretative ideas – just a sense of someone wanting to get through the notes.
The Canzonetta reveals a warm lower register but the LSO’s string tone is uncharacteristically insipid. There are lovely flute and clarinet exchanges, though Lee doesn’t match their veiled dynamics. Vaupotic´ sets a good initial pace for the finale and Lee responds with her most secure playing of the concerto. It really dances. But then Vaupotic´ slams on the brakes at the poco meno mosso (bar 145, 1'59") where only a slight pulling-up is suggested.
The Méditation and Sérénade mélancolique fillers go pleasantly enough, but for an excellent (budget) disc containing all Tchaikovsky’s concertante works for violin, Ilya Kaler on Naxos is superb.