Although both written by quintessentially Russian composers less than five years apart, the violin concerto of Igor Stravinsky and the Second Violin Concerto of Sergey Prokofiev each make entirely different uses of the violin. For starters, Stravinsky was quite reluctant to write a violin concerto in the first place, believing that his knowledge of the instrument was insufficient. The result, however, was a magnificent tour de force for both soloist and orchestra that has become a cornerstone of the repertoire. Deeply rooted in Stravinsky's fondness for the Baroque, the concerto is largely a dialogue between soloist and orchestra. Prokofiev's Second Concerto, by contrast, is the epitome of a Romantic-inspired concerto, overflowing with spinning melodies and lyricism. This album is a re-release on Warner Classics & Jazz "Maestro" line of a 1997 Teldec release of a live performance of Itzhak Perlman and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Barenboim. Perlman's performance harkens back to a time in his career when his efforts focused on violin playing rather than conducting, and shows the artist at the height of his powers. His effortless technical command of his instrument belies the incredible demands made on performers by both of these concertos. Combined with soulful, lyrical playing in both concertos, this album was truly worthy of re-release and is among the finest performances of these two great Russian masterpieces.
Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Violin Concerto in D major|
|Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 63|