Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Violin Concerto 28:17
Violin Concerto 23:53
Violin Concerto 23:13
Bohuslav Martinu PO/Kirk Trevor (Menotti; Arutiunian) and Leon Gregorian (Barber)

The Menotti concerto is intense and smoothly flowing. In its operatic romantic modernism it shadows the Barber concerto. In Verdehr's hands the 'lungs' of the work breathe more naturally than in the flaming intensity of the pioneering Spivakovsky LP recording (RCA Boston SO/Munch). The approach and the sound quality are leaner than the Ricci disc (Reference Recordings RR-45CD) which remains my first choice. If the Menotti misses (not by a mile) the melodic memorability of the Barber or the Janis Ivanovs concertos it remains a work you need to hear if you have any feeling for works that stand in hereditary line to the Tchaikovsky.

Succulently reflective nostalgia is the hallmark of Ricci's Barber. Verdehr (23:13) is alive to these qualities but does not surrender to them with the abandon of Ricci (25:47). This is a strength although the performance sometimes slips into a low-key approach. The Ricci, while compellingly rich, is a nice antidote to the Isaac Stern (CBS-Sony). The Verdehr is lean and fleetly bowed without the breathlessly driven quality of the Stern.

Reference Recordings neatly couples the Barber and Menotti. Crystal do not stint including a third concerto in four movements. Arutiunian (b. 1920) may well be known better for his trumpet concerto. He was born and educated in Yerevan then studied in Moscow from 1946 to 1948. As an Armenian composer he is naturally measured against Khachaturyan. His concerto is one of several. Apart from the famous trumpet concerto there are concertos for piano and for female voice. This one dates from 1988. Verhdehr's playing is once more clean and clear. He is not given to adorning the line in any way. The concerto is touched with romance which falls somewhere between Khachaturyan and Shostakovich. This is mingled with the neo-baroque approach of Schnittke. It ends in mid air as if the composer suddenly said 'time to stop'.

I was much taken with this unhackneyed and generous anthology and I hope that you will be too


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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