Itzhak Perlman / Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra / André Previn

Sibelius & Korngold: Violin Concertos; Sinding: Suite

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If one imagines Sibelius as a passionate late Romantic, as a fervent nationalist, as an ardent emotionalist, as the Finnish heir to Tchaikovsky or the Nordic equivalent of Dvorák, then Itzhak Perlman's 1979 recording of his Violin Concerto with André Previn and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra may be perfectly acceptable. But if one imagines Sibelius as less a late Romantic than a stern proto-modernist, less a nationalist than a rugged individualist, less an emotionalist than a hard-muscled, rough-hewn stoic, then Perlman's recording may be perfectly dreadful. If one imagines Korngold as one of the great movie composers, as a master of the catchy tune, the ingratiating harmony, and the opulent orchestration, then Perlman's 1980 recording of his Violin Concerto with Previn and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra may be incredibly convincing. But if one remembers that Korngold was the last of the great Viennese composers and the heir of Mahler and Strauss before he came to Hollywood in the '30s, then Perlman's brilliantly sparkling but utterly superficial recording may be only incredibly silly. If one imagines Sinding as a charming little composer of charming little virtuoso pieces, then Perlman's 1979 recording of his Suite for violin orchestra with Previn and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra may be wonderfully impressive. And since it would be difficult to argue that Sinding is anything other than a little composer and that his Suite is anything other than a vehicle for virtuosos with more technique and tone than taste, Perlman's recording is certainly wonderfully impressive. EMI's late stereo sound is perfectly acceptable, but that's about all.

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