This is well worth
getting. Perhaps you have taken an interest
in Miaskovsky a result of the fine Naxos-Yablonsky
CD of his symphonies 24 and 25. This
will give you his most romantically
turbulent concerto and introduce you
to Vainberg's strongly profiled violin
Polish origins connect
these two composers. Vainberg was born
in Warsaw. Miaskovsky was born just
outside Warsaw. Vainberg was from the
generation after Miaskovsky.
Miaskovsky wrote the
Violin Concerto in 1938 and dedicated
it to its first performer, David Oistrakh.
It was Miaskovsky’s first concerto.
He prepared himself by studying the
violin concertos of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky
The Miaskovsky is slightly
better known than the Vainberg. It has
been recorded before. This is the second
all digital version of the Miaskovsky.
The first is the Repin more mundanely
coupled with the Tchaikovsky on Philips
473 343-2. Also you can still buy
the mono Oistrakh version on Pearl GEMM CD
9295 (ADD). The Pearl equates in authority
to Sammons/Testament in the Delius and
Menuhin/Elgar in the Elgar concerto.
It embodies an extraordinary performance
which all Miaskovskians must have. Hors
de combat but still desirable is
the deleted Olympia (OCD134 AAD) in
which the fiery clear playing of Grigori
Feigin is heard with the USSR Radio
SO conducted by Alexander Dmitriev.
It is coupled with the 22nd Symphony
written four years after the Concerto.
Not unsurprisingly the tone of the Pearl
orchestra sounds, if not meagre, then
certainly weedy by comparison with the
full bandwidth sound of this version
and the Repin/Gergiev.
The Grubert version
has plenty going for it. At 17.48 (first
movement) the stomped-out rhythm has
not before been accentuated with such
impact. The dreamy second movement is
laden with a sweet allure and is heavily
fragrant with gentle nostalgia (4.02;
8.03). The Prokofiev-like fairytale
atmosphere is prominent at 4.32. After
the white impetuous argent lightning
of those opening gestures a cavalleresco
passage rears up rather akin to the
Nielsen counterpart. The glittering
accompaniment is strangely typical of
Rodrigo. This is a lovely recording
with room for a sweet and steely delicacy.
After such a hungrily
nostalgic concerto the Vainberg sounds
very modern and knowing. The 'olde worlde'
innocence is banished by a ruthless
hunt. The aggression and sourness is
not far removed from Shostakovich. The
violin has become hunter and sometimes
hunted with the music goaded on by a
sort of lyric hysteria.
The second movement
is touched with the ruminative tragedy
of the great and Shostakovich symphonic
adagios. The third movement is a deeply
impressive lament musing slightly sourly
as if a distillation of sad fanfares
ringing out across desolate battlefields.
For the finale it is as if Vainberg
realises he does not have the freedom
to end a concerto like that. Instead
we have something militarily determined
but with a glint in the eye. It works
itself up into a manic energy but the
work ends daringly with a submissive
The Vainberg was recorded
on Melodiya by its dedicatee the unfairly
overshadowed Leonid Kogan. That recording
was issued on an EMI LP and Olympia
have reissued it and added its original
coupling, the Fourth Symphony with the
Moldavian Rhapsody as a filler.
Kogan's version has much the same standing
as Oistrakh's of the Miaskovsky and
although the recording quality gulf
is not as wide similar merits and demerits
apply. Kogan's reading has the creator/collaborator's
authority. In his hands the concerto
blazes, snivels, laments and exults.
I would not want to be without it yet
there is room for Grubert.
Naxos have also done
us proud with the notes. They are by
Olympia's usual provider, Per Skans.
He is generous with fresh details of
the two works.
What next from this
source: the Shtogarenko and the Steinberg?
We can hope.
All in all another
of Naxos's successes. This is an audacious
partnership both between the artists
and the juxtaposition of two grand concertos
from adjoining generations one firmly
rooted in romantic tradition the other
having its world marked out by the tragedy
of two wars, oppression and pogrom.
Survey of the Chamber Works, Orchestral
Music and Concertos on Record By JONATHAN