(current cover may vary)
Sitkovetsky's way with Prokofiev emphasises the wild and dangerous enchantress.
His mordant tone, especially in the first concerto, brings out the witchery
in a world of wretched horror and sultry eroticism - a fairytale for grown-ups.
Walton clearly learnt a great from Prokofiev for his own concerto. This
performance has much in common with the great but now ancient Szigeti/Beecham
recording. No. 2 is not as exotically lyrical as the first concerto. A Bachian
pavane - all repose and balanced sweetness dominates the middle movement.
The work is full of recollections or pre-echoes of his Romeo and Juliet
score. The last movement momentarily loses touch with vitality and the
inspiration is stretched tight.
From the joyous beauties of Prokofiev we move to another world in the two
Shostakovich concertos. The first concerto is in four movements: an ochre-toned
landscape through which the violinist progresses poignantly acidic, running
a gamut that takes in a Baba-Yaga scuttle, glorious poster-style bravado,
nostalgia (recollections of the saccharine sweetness of the second piano
concerto middle movement) and a glaring Russian dance. The second concerto
is nostalgic again but a tough and bitter-sweet nut to crack. The climes
are colder and the accustomed skip-scurry of the quicker movements has more
of the macabre about it and nothing of the fairytale. In my copy there was
a strange 'pop' at 00:52 in the third movement.
Recording quality is excellent - rather close-up perhaps in the case of the
Prokofiev concertos. The LSO are alert and fanciful. The BBCSO seem somehow
cooler; more distant. This is not inappropriate to the music.
A recommended set, and at the exraordinary bargain price an outstanding
bargain despite the scant trilingual notes. There are no similarly coupled/priced