Various Artists

Romantic Violin Concertos

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With a three-disc set entitled "Romantic Violin Concertos," EMI Classics has achieved something of a rarity -- a truly worthwhile compilation. The ingredients for such a success seem so simple, yet are frequently missed when putting together previous recordings in such a fashion. First, the concertos chosen generally fit the title quite well and are representative samples of the literature. Some could argue semantics and say that neither the Beethoven nor Prokofiev concertos are from the Romantic period and that perhaps the Brahms concerto would fit the bill better, but this small detail is not worth squabbling over. The second ingredient is the need for exceptional orchestral accompaniments. Particularly with concertos of this time period, the orchestra parts are every bit as important and memorable as the solo line; too many compilations are sunk because of the use of lesser-quality orchestras. With ensembles like the London Philharmonic, London Symphony, and Philharmonia Orchestra, listeners can be certain that the accompaniments throughout these three discs are masterfully performed. Finally, great soloists are intrinsically necessary. From Oistrakh's historic 1958 recording of the Beethoven concerto to the still-emerging talent of Nikolai Znaider and his performance of the Bruch concerto, all of the artists heard here are technically brilliant, musically profound, and satisfying from start to finish. Anyone seeking an introduction to the violin concertos of this era would do quite well to invest in this well-constructed compilation.

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