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Peter Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Violin Concerto in D (1878) [35:53]
Sérénade mélancolique for violin and orchestra (1875) [9:27]
Valse-Scherzo for violin and orchestra (1877) [7:46]
Souvenir d’un lieu cher (Souvenir of a beloved place) for violin and piano (1878) [15:54]*
Julia Fischer (violin)
* Yakov Kreizberg (piano)
Russian National Orchestra/Yakov Kreizberg
rec. Souvenir: MCO Studio 5, Hilversum, April 2006; DZZ Studio 5, Moscow, April 2006
PENTATONE PTC5186095 [68:25]

First, a word about the recorded sound of this release. This is a Hybrid Multichannel Super Audio recording. I listened to it on our Bang and Olufsen four column speaker system. I was impressed with the natural concert hall/recital room sound. Soloist and orchestra are well balanced in a warm and spacious acoustic with good solid bass and clarity and firmness even in the loudest perorations.
The Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto is one of the most famous in the repertory; and one of the most often recorded. Yet the talent of Julia Fischer is so awesome, her reading of this ‘old warhorse’ so fresh, so full of fire and vitality and wistful tenderness, and articulation, a model of clarity, that I unhesitatingly place it up with the finest interpretations including those by Heifetz, Milstein, Stern, Chung, Vengerov and Repin to name but a few.  Kreizberg’s support excites and beguiles.  
All these works, as you will note from the header, were composed within a short time frame, in the late 1870s; the Sérénade mélancolique, of 1875, being the earliest. Tchaikovsky’s own comments sum up its character: “Melancholic passion, hopeless yearning and bitter thoughts of death seem to us to be unreal, false, almost kitschy in the dragging waltz disguise. And yet the music of the Sérénade is so simple and natural, so vividly true to life.” The work is wintry and one can discern something of a pre-echoing of the style of Sibelius. Fischer rises with élan to the technical difficulties of the little-known showpiece, Valse-Scherzo, a demanding Allegro. It is coy when the furioso sparks do not fly. Altogether great fun, a little gem.  
Yakov Kreizberg puts down his baton and goes to the piano to partner Julia Fischer with brio and sensitivity in Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir d’un lieu cher. Its opening ‘Méditation’, developed from the original Andante of the Violin Concerto - replaced by the ‘Canzonetta’ - is yearningly lyrical and passionately dramatic. The ‘devilish’ ‘Scherzo’ rushes headlong with a sort of impatient sweetness at its centre but it is the concluding ‘Mélodie’ that lingers in the memory, another of Tchaikovsky’s lovely melodies.
Fischer’s awesome talent makes for a performance that can compare with the best in a crowded list of recordings of this very popular concerto. Imaginative, intelligent programming further lifts this album.
Ian Lace

see also review by Jonathan Woolf




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