Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto

Sarah Chang

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Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto Review

by Mike D. Brownell

Now one of the most frequently performed and most-loved violin concertos of all time, Tchaikovsky's D major Violin Concerto got off to a very rocky start. He had difficulty settling on a dedicatee due to Leopold Auer's original refusal due to the concerto's extreme technical demands, and it was not well-received by music critics of the time. Quite a change from modern times, when virtually every major violinist and nearly all upstart prodigies have made the concerto a staple of their recorded repertoire. This EMI reissue features violinist Sarah Chang in 1992 at the young age of 12. Joined by the London Symphony Orchestra and Colin Davis, this recording represents a reliable though uninspiring choice for listeners. At this point in her career, Chang was more than capable of easily tackling the technical demands of the concerto. Her musical interpretation, however, is far less seasoned and mature than her more recent playing. The outer movements in particular are safe and unoriginal. The finale, while not slow, lacks the dazzling pyrotechnics of others like Joshua Bell, who makes this concerto such a crowd pleaser. The album concludes with transcriptions of four Brahms Hungarian Dances for Violin and Piano. These performances are slightly more musically dynamic and spontaneous than the Tchaikovsky.

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