This CD is part of a series entitled the Freiburger Edition.
The edition evidently sets out to document the best of the Freiburg POs
broadcast concerts as featured on Sudwestfunk in the Landesstudio Freiburg.
Two classic Russian works are offered on a reasonably well filled CD. First
of all let me applaud the choice of the second Tchaikovsky piano concerto.
The first would have been a more obvious but more hackneyed option.
As it is the second concerto is a determinedly independent work which refuses
to ape the first concerto except occasionally in the first movement. On the
debit side it does not have the world-conquering melodies of the first concerto.
This version plays for just over 45 minutes and while in no way effacing
the Gilels version from some years ago or indeed Peter Donohoes (both
EMI - not sure if they are currently available) is a vivid document gaining
from the immediacy and risk-taking of a live concert situation with an audience
(largely silent) present. Certainly, Andreas Boyde gives every sign of revelling
in the work - both its showy splendour and its inwardness (very much to the
fore in the chamber music interplay between piano, violin and cello). The
first movement Allegro Brillante is stormy and turbulent aspiring
to the heights of the romantic ideal in a sort of parallel to Manfred.
While without the shocking overwhelming gusto and great tunes of No 1 is
still has its moments and more especially in first movement with its celebratory
theme like some grandiose coronation hymn. The second movement has extensive
work for solo violin and cello played with Brahmsian passion, occasional
introspection and chamber music texture. The finale glitters like Christmas
and is clearly a progenitor of the five Saint-Saens piano concertos and
especially the second.
I have less to say about the Shostakovich Ninth. After the first movement
which begins with the most sprightly woodwind gloriously recorded with excellent
stabbing attack I found that the tension occasionally sagged. This is a pity
because Johannes Fritzsch (the conductor) clearly took to the work with a
Rozhdestvensky-like pleasure in the more energetic movements. The sardonic
humour of the solo violins squeaking serenade is brilliantly caught
suggesting a zany serenade of the mice. The Moderato is much more
serious but a lot less concentrated and wayward. It wanders by some desolate
place like Warlocks Curlew. The Presto is vintage
Shostakovich startlingly like a bellicose Malcolm Arnold with the orchestra
skating and skittering like maddened squirrels. The black Largo reminded
me of Bernard Herrmanns fantasy film music. The final allegretto
is knockabout fun.
The notes are in English and German. The recording quality is excellent.
Two concert performance recordings which never less than enjoyable and which
in the case of the Concerto bid fair to be anyones library version.
Let me commend the concerto to any collectors who, with me, rejoice in live
concert recordings. Recommended in these terms.
See also review by David Wright