Maxim Vengerov / Itamar Golan

Bach & Beethoven

(CD - Wigmore Hall Live #WHLIVE 0056)

Review by

This album contains a recording of a live concert at London's Wigmore Hall by Siberian-British violinist Maxim Vengerov in April 2012, minus a Handel violin sonata that also appeared on the same program, presumably truncated to make it fit on one CD. The concert marked Vengerov's return to the violin after several years of forced rest (he did some conducting) due to a shoulder injury. It's quite good, but it has the flavor of a performance with something to prove. The opening movements of Bach's Partita No. 2 for solo violin in D minor, BWV 1004, have a slightly fussy quality, with a bit too many dynamic shifts to keep up with. But Vengerov's iron control over the giant final chaconne shows how he got to the top of the heap. He manages to stretch out the middle major-key section into some mighty thin air without letting it drop, and there are many startling moments. Probably the highlight is the Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 9, Op. 47 ("Kreutzer"), Vengerov slashes through the somehow Russian-sounding thematic material and pianist Itamar Golan matches him step for step. The piano's assertiveness at the beginning of the finale is very distinctively done. The bottom line is that, although this is a violin recital on a par with many others, Vengerov fans will want to have it, for it is a fascinating document in the creative life of a major virtuoso.

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