Violinist Ivry Gitlis is one of many artists from the Golden Age whose name is slowly being forgotten. This DVD of some of his more stunning performances becomes all the more valuable. Ironically, if Gitlis were to enter the concert stage today, he could very likely be dismissed as an overindulgent, hyper-romanticized showoff. He pushes his instrument to the absolute limit (you can see him pushing his bow so hard that the stick makes frequent contact with the string); he pushes the tempo constantly and often speeds out ahead of orchestra or accompanist; his vibrato is constantly intense and wide. So what's the appeal? For one, his sound is simply breathtaking and could charm a snake. His tone is the deep, dark, guttural quality that so characterizes violin playing in the 1960s. For all of the flashy bowings he does and the sometimes ludicrous tempos he chooses, his intonation is virtually flawless. His performance of the Tchaikovsky concerto, accompanied by a comparatively lackluster Orchestre National de l'ORTF, becomes more and more intriguing with each passing note. By the finale, Gitlis is going so fast that it would seem impossible for him to maintain the performance. But he does hold it together and by the end audience and orchestra are equally out of breath because of his bravura. Despite some of his practices falling out of modern favor, Gitlis remains one of the most captivating virtuosos to ever hold the violin and this DVD is definitely a wonderful experience.
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