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

Violin Concerto No. 3 in G, K216 (1775)
Julian Rachlin (violin)
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Mariss Jansons.
Recorded February 12th – 14th 2004, in the Stadthalle, Germering, Germany DDD.
WARNER CLASSICS 2564 61561-2 [64’49"]


Jansons has a high profile at present with two Proms with this orchestra last summer, and his assumption of the position of chief conductor with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra very recently. Already two CDs of this partnership have been released and Warner Music have now issued this concerto recording with the young Lithuanian soloist, presumably hoping to cash in on the rush.

I must confess to a prejudice here. Although I love the Brahms Concerto, I am not too positively disposed towards the Mozart. So it is with some embarrassment to have to admit that I enjoyed the Mozart concerto immensely, more in fact than the Brahms. Every once and a while, the playing of artists in the recording studio gel into something special, and here it is with this performance.

There is a unity between conductor, soloist and orchestra which has been caught on the wing by the engineers. In spite of my feelings about these concertos, I would love to hear this combination recording the rest. I am sure that anyone who is a Mozart fan will love this disc, with first and second movement cadenzas by Sam Franko, and third movement cadenza by David Oistrakh.

The soloist has a very forthright playing style with minimal finger noise, and the dovetailing of his playing with the very sensitive playing of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under their chief conductor is absolutely superb.

When it comes to the Brahms Concerto, one of my favourites, I feel that the inspiration is at a lower level than that of the Mozart. It is not that it is a poor performance, far from it. However, Rachlin is no Oistrakh, and I miss the sense of flow that the Russian Master usually delivers under such diverse conductors as Klemperer, Kondrashin and Konwitschny, Pedrotti, Szell and others.

The level of inspiration in the Brahms isn’t quite at the exalted level of the Mozart, but still this is a good, rather than a great performance, with conductor and orchestra performing superlatively.

The Warner recording is warm and clear, and gives an accurate representation of both concerti. In the Brahms concerto, the cadenza in the first movement is the now usual Joachim, so there is nothing to be concerned about here. The balance between woodwind, brass and strings in the Brahms is exemplary, and I haven’t heard a better performance of the orchestral part of this work for a long time.

The recording is brand new, having been set down in February 2004. I am sure that the soloist’s teachers – Boris Kuschnir (in Vienna) and Pinkas Zukerman, will both be very pleased with this effort. I look forward with great interest to hearing this artist again, hopefully in similarly exalted company.

John Phillips

 



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