disc was released to as an affectionate tribute from Vladimir
Fedoseyev to mark the seventieth birthday of the cellist, Victor
has been Principal Cello of what is now known as the ‘Tchaikovsky
Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio’ since 1961. The orchestra
was previously the Moscow Radio Symphony, an orchestra with an
exemplary pedigree on record which includes a matchless 1960s
Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances (awaiting its first successful
transfer to CD - although I have the highest hopes that the new
CDK version will meet the challenge).
bel canto tone well matches the Boccherini which
is intensely romantic as if Mozart and Bach had been 're-engineered'
by Pyotr Tchaikovsky in his most lyrical phase as in the Souvenirs
de Florence. Simon is here more Maurice Gendron than Rostropovich.
He is, rather like the very different Daniil Shafran, yet another
Russian talent eclipsed by Rostropovich. The two Tchaikovsky
morcels are grist to Simon's songful 'mill' - entrancing in
the cello-flute duo at 3.23 in the Nocturne and with superbly
differentiated dynamics in the Pezzo (e.g. at 4.23).
Boris Tchaikovsky concerto is the most substantial work
on the disc. It represents a major change of gear from its travelling
companions. The composer is happy to deploy dissonance but no
more so than in say Britten's Cello Symphony or Schuman's
In Praise of Shahn or Shostakovich's First Cello Concerto.
The soundworld of this gravely introspective and sometimes nightmarish
work is sharply focused, clear and ingeniously calculated. The
lyrical element is certainly there but laced with vitriol. After
the long and deeply serious opening andante, lasting almost
as long as the other three movements put together, comes a circus
style allegretto with much bitter-black brass work. The
contrast reminded me a little of the brutal transition from the
long and unflinching largo of Shostakovich's Sixth Symphony
to the knockabout second movement. Tchaikovsky's writing is notable
for astonishingly vivid echo effects from the solo line to the
orchestra with the orchestral ‘shadow’ often emulating the sound
of the balalaika. After a while you notice the brilliance of Tchaikovsky's
orchestration with its emphasis on chamber delicacy and microcosms.
The final moderato juxtaposes fragments of bourgeois dance
references with caustic commentary in the manner of Weill and
Eisler. Simon's accent is throaty and catarrhal - well suited
to this nicotine-stained music.
disc has a magnetic pull for cello-fans but a much wider audience
will be grateful for the grit and smoke, song and lamentation
of the Tchaikovsky concerto. Defiant and distinctive, this work
will find ready friends among those who already rate Kabalevsky's
Second Concerto or the Sallinen and Kokkonen concertos.
Boris Tchaikovsky website: http://www.mmv.ru/p/bt/