Ilya Grubert

Elgar: Violin Concerto; In The South; Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1

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The only Elgar recording made in the USSR that anyone can recall, prior to this one, was Evgeny Svetlanov and the USSR Symphony's 1978 recording of the Second Symphony. And like Svetlanov's before it, the present disc isn't half bad, but it isn't exactly successful, either. Latvian violinist Ilia Grubert has a big tone with a penetrating vibrato, and no one would say he doesn't give his all to Elgar's concerto, But some, perhaps most, fans of the work may find his approach much too forward and emotionally extravagant. Even Kennedy and Perlman's emotionally charged accounts of the work have more restraint -- and, it has to be said, more technical control -- than Grubert's. Russian conductor Vladimir Ziva and the Moscow Symphony do their best to support the soloist, but their tone is too unsteady and the ensemble is too shaky to be entirely effective, and the solo performance of In the South lacks warmth and polish while the concluding performance of the first Pomp and Circumstance March lacks dignity and nobility. Vista Vera's sound is loud, coarse, and ferocious.

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