Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Piano Concerto No. 1
Violin Concerto

Viktoria Postnikova (piano)
Vienna SO/Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, rec 1983
Ruggiero Ricci (violin)
Netherlands Radio SO/Jean Fournet, rec 1975
ELOQUENCE 467 404 2 [70.44]

Commentary on the Eloquence series

Two mainstays of the repertoire provide symmetry, value and balance in this disc. Both works are very well known. The Decca provenance of each version branches out in the case of the Ricci to Decca's hi-fi Phase Four line (1975) and for the Postnikova to Decca's FFRR premium range (1983).

Both soloists stand to one side of the celebrity circuit. The recordings are big and bold, wide-stage and exciting. The vehement fist-shaking impact of the horns at the start of the piano concerto says it all. This is vivid music-making by characters rather than production-line technicians. The beaming geniality of Rozhdestvensky does not undermine the grip and excitement of the piano concerto which is given a studied breadth which some critics consider saps the impetuous charge of the music. Certainly this is not rent-a-performance from Postnikova (Rozhdestvensky's wife) and you may well want another version alongside this one. However this is much better than good: idiosyncratic, strong and florid.

The Violin Concerto is distinguished by agreeably spotlit work for the woodwind and a soloist whose quick vibrato (no Boris Belkin he!) and close-up hoarse tone leaves you dry mouthed at the end of an adrenalin-wave performance. The orchestra and soloist seem to compete in the velocity of the outer movements. There is a measure of coarseness in the first movement and I wondered several times about unanimity and coordination between soloist and orchestra. This is a demerit though one of gaudy character rather than anonymous 'perfection'. Not to all tastes but a challenging counterbalance to convention. A less equivocal choice would be Oistrakh on BMG-Melodiya or at the other extreme the gloriously non-PC version by Campoli on Beulah.

Rob Barnett

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