Elgar: Violin Concerto / Chausson: Poème
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Top Customer Reviews
As DH mentions in his Amazon review, Perlman's performance has mostly been shunned by British reviewers - his playing here has been described to the lines of 'technical dazzle and nothing much more'. Now, if we were talking about Elgar's Cello concerto, one of his most autumnal 'late' works, I would readily accept criticism as far as 'lack of restraint' goes. However, the Violin Concerto has, in many hands, only suffered from excessive punch-pulling.
I mean, just look at the piece. Elgar himself dedicated the work to someone's soul (he never revealed who the person was but I very strongly suspect that it was a lady, judging by the music). So, the Concerto is not about restraint at all. It's about letting your feelings go at full blast! It's about being young and in love, full to the brim with sweet and noble intoxication! It's about...
Well I did warn you. Anyway, to be honest, I do not think Perlman overdoes it to the least extent, neither is there any hint of self-indulgent virtuoso display (despite the fact that he handles even the most hair-raisingly demanding passages of the nearly 50-minute piece with magisterial ease). I've heard quite a few other versions of this work, and none of them come as close to the heart of the Concerto as this.Read more ›
Chung is better than anyone I've heard at capturing the mercurial qualities of Elgar's score. Pinchas Zukerman once said that of all the violin concertos in the repertory he found this one the most difficult, not technically, but because of the complexity of the emotions it expresses. Listen, for example, to the tenderness with which the violin makes its first entry, and then compare that to the extroverted feelings expressed elsewhere in the first movement.
Chung is particularly good in the meditative passages of the cadenza, which she plays with riveting intensity. And listen to the impassioned way she later bids the themes farewell and launches into the coda. Solti's partnering is superb, and the recording is excellent.
Chung's version is available from Amazon but you may have trouble finding it, because it's just listed under Elgar's Violin Concerto as "Concerto Violin (2)" with no indication of the artist. The disc is also available from Amazon.co.uk, which has a complete listing for it.
Barenboim provides a large-scale but rather clumsy accompaniment, matching Perlman for outgoing display to no great purpose. I think the five-star reviews here reflect the up-close microphone placement that shoves Perlman's virtuosity down our throats, but his tone seems edgy and harsh through my audio system. Despite the claim that this is an Amazon Essential Recording, that's just Hurwitz's quirky preference.
The Elgar Violin Concerto is one of my favorite concertos. It has a herculean quality, and contains some of the most beautiful and somber melodies in any violin concerto. In my opinion, in order to play the Elgar Concerto well, one must really understand the phrase and shape it without adding excessive sentimentality. There must also be an English-like nobility to the piece. Perlman's version, while technically very accurate, simply is too sentimental for this piece. There is very little sense of dramatic urgency here, even in the piece's many climaxes. While Perlman's style is fit for Kreisler pieces, it simply does not fits here. I would suggest that one listen to the early Menuhin and Kennedy recordings of this piece.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This review is not about the music, which is wonderful. It concerns the recording itself. For some reason the last thirty seconds of the last movement of the concerto have been cut... Read morePublished on February 14, 2013 by Jonathan
Perlman slurps and slides his way through Elgar's work with zero understanding of the style. Either get Menuhin with the composer conducting or the young Nigel Kennedy with Vernon... Read morePublished on August 2, 2009 by The singing strad
Perlman's Elgar shines with plenty of his famous nuances and wide variety of tone. Oh but the tone!... Read morePublished on July 19, 2005 by John Herman