This disc has, until now, escaped MusicWeb International's review
net. This is despite having been reissued at mid-price on Warner Elatus
0927490142 in 2006. It first came out at premium price, as you would expect
given the violinist's super-stardom and has elite sound to match.
That was in 1989 on Erato ECD 75506. It emphatically deserves to be included
in Warner's Original Jacket
We can crib about the rather threadbare presentation. There are acres of
blank space in the booklet and a good but brief essay in three languages
accompanies the track-listing. That said, the music-making is the stuff of
exultation. Mutter is in imperial form. She brings to the microphone an
avalanche of character and breathtakingly visceral virtuosity. This is at
the service of a challengingly fresh imagination. Rostropovich is in his
element too in this Russian repertoire. The orchestral contribution is no
also-ran in the concertos and is centre-stage in the Shchedrin.
These three works - each around the twenty minute mark - are not
long-winded in relation to the ideas they bring to the listener's
ears. The Glazunov
from 1905 is a treat. This stands in a
gloriously Tchaikovskian lineage that melds melody and drama aplenty with
succinct expressive discipline. Both soloist
have already established their credentials with
Tchaikovsky so their qualities here come as no surprise. There's not
a single time-served moment about this. I have praised recordings by Sivo
in the past and this belongs in their
company. The Glazunov is here presented in a single track. The
, written a dozen years after the
Glazunov, is astonishingly highly coloured and must surely have influenced
Walton in his 1930s Violin Concerto. It speaks the language of Russian
fairy-tales: dangerous, seductive, enchanting and threatening - no effete
fairies here; no Disney saccharine. Mutter has all this under her
lightning-agile hands and fingers. She paints the music as if it were a
tremendously detailed full-colour graphic novel. I will not be discarding
the shivery Szigeti recording
despite its ancient sound but this
certainly jostles other estimable later versions from Sivo
. The First consistently grips my attention
where I struggle with Prokofiev's Second. If we are to have one of
the two this is the one I am pleased Mutter went for.
for orchestra alone
(no solo violin here) is very much of the late-twentieth century. Its
devotional and unhurried bearing is clear. It's an impressive work
that will please those who love the new-spirituality minimalism of composers
such as John Tavener. There's nothing showy here - only unwavering
concentration. The humming strings will have you believing you are hearing a
Russian Orthodox church choir in procession and going about its devotions.
Honeyed woodwind outline a calmly chanted counterpoint. Later the strings
take on a tortured and buzzingly razor-sharp role. Bells, percussion,
trumpets and piano provide an underscore of angst, tragedy, violence and
majesty. The effect is at times searing, statuesque and even panic-stricken.
If you enjoy Pärt's Cantus
then this work should appeal
although that parallel provides a departure-point rather than a complete
pre-echo of the Shchedrin. Stihira
was written for Rostropovich and
his Washington orchestra.
A disc you may have overlooked. It would be an error to miss this even if
you struggle with the concept of matching the Shchedrin with two refulgent
romantic concertos; sacred and profane side by side.