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Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Violin Concerto in D major Op.77 (1879)
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Violin Concerto No.3 in G major K216 (1775)
Julian Rachlin (violin)
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Mariss Jansons
Recorded at the Stadthalle Germering, Germany, February 2004
WARNER 2564 61561-2 [64.49]

A fine soloist, a distinguished orchestra and an often great conductor Ė itís a strong augury for a successful performance and recording. And in some ways it is. These are unfailingly thoughtful and serious performances, yoked together perhaps a bit unexpectedly, though not if David Oistrakh were still alive as this is just his kind of big boned coupling. To take the Brahms first, this gets a rather personalised reading. It opens slowly and deliberately with some italicised orchestral passages presaging the solo entry from Rachlin Ė quick, unportentous, not stopping at all to make chordal hay, instead moving on with the orchestral patina. One can see exactly his point. The undeclamatory solo line is being fused more to the orchestral sound world, integrated into it instead of seeming to be detached from it. Then he slows, indulging some unusually introspective paragraphs, almost it has to be said to breaking point in terms of the spine of the argument. The interiority of the solo line is remarkable but seems, in the context of the opening, almost contradictory, despite the excellently brought out horn harmonies and wind lines. Thereís a chamber intimacy to the slow movement with colours subtly changing and a sweetly lyric pathos to the phrasing. Rachlin fines down his tone to a whisper here. In the finale there are one or two jarring phrases where Rachlin leaps out of the line - but each to his own, I suppose. I hope Iíve suggested something of the intimacy and reserve of the performance. My own view is that this is only a partial solution to the Concertoís complex problems and itís not one that satisfied me Ė but I can well imagine admiration in other quarters.

The Mozart satisfied me less. Thereís phrasal impatience in the opening movement and some unconvincing inflexions - though Rachlin does play the Franko cadenza, which is a pleasant change. The slow movement is really quite slow, which I welcome, with expressive and intense phrasing over the pizzicato lower strings but I am afraid to say that it sounded over sophisticated to my ears and not felt; fake is a strong word but Iíll risk it. The finale is only so-so. To be blunt I wish Rachlin had recorded something else because he lacks the ease and innocence of execution for Mozart, at least on this showing.

Cards on the table. Itís a no. The recording is warm and rich, the playing searching and always intriguing. But despite the auguries itís still a no. Too much here is not properly thought through to ultimate musical ends.

Jonathan Woolf

The recording is warm and rich, the playing searching and always intriguing. But despite the auguries itís still a no. ... see Full Review

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