Arabella Steinbacher / Charles Dutoit / L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande

Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto, Op. 64; Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto, Op. 35

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These are among the most familiar pieces in the entire violin-and-orchestra repertory, and German violinist Arabella Steinbacher even admits in the notes that she had no particular desire to record them. What convinced her, she says, was the chance to work with conductor Charles Dutoit, here leading the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, and indeed the reading they produce is an unusually collaborative one. And, as it happens, that of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64, is a real winner. It's clear from the beginning, with Steinbacher's unusually gentle, liquid tone on her loaner 1716 Stradivarius matched by a deliberate pace and quiet space from the orchestra. Listeners will become deeply convinced in the slow movement, one of the most rhapsodically beautiful readings ever put on recordings. Throughout there are small details of expression that no one else has hit on. The Tchaikovsky concerto is not quite as memorable; Steinbacher is less connected to Tchaikovsky's heated inwardness than to Mendelssohn's delicacy. But there is still elegant and graceful playing in abundance. PentaTone's sound, recorded at Victoria Hall, is superbly matched to the intentions of the performance.

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