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Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto Hybrid SACD - DSD

4.6 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Hybrid SACD - DSD, September 20, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

Performer: Joshua Bell Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor: Michael Tilson Thomas Composer: Tchaikovsky Tracks: 1. Concerto in D Major for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 35 2. I. Allegro moderato Album Version 19:32 3. II. Canzonetta. Andante 4. III. Finale. Allegro vivacissimo 5. Méditation in D minor, Op. 42, No. 1 6. Danse russe from Swan Lake, Op. 20 (Act III

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. I. Allegro moderato - Michael Tilson Thomas
  2. II. Canzonetta. Andante - Michael Tilson Thomas
  3. III. Finale. Allegro vivacissimo - Michael Tilson Thomas
  4. Méditation in D-Minor, Op. 42, No. 1 - Michael Tilson Thomas
  5. Swan Lake, Op. 20, Act III: Danse russe - Joshua Bell
  6. I. Allegro moderato
  7. II. Canzonetta. Andante
  8. III. Finale. Allegro vivacissimo
  9. Méditation in D minor, Op. 42, No. 1
  10. Danse russe from Swan Lake, Op. 20 (Act III)
  11. I. Allegro moderato
  12. II. Canzonetta. Andante
  13. III. Finale. Allegro vivacissimo
  14. Méditation in D minor, Op. 42, No. 1
  15. Danse russe from Swan Lake, Op. 20 (Act III)


Product Details

  • Performer: Joshua Bell
  • Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Michael Tilson Thomas
  • Composer: Tchaikovsky
  • Audio CD (September 20, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD - DSD
  • Label: Sony Classical
  • Run Time: 153 minutes
  • ASIN: B000AY9OHQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,705 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 6, 2005
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Joshua Bell has been capturing the hearts and applause of audiences around the world for a the past several years, striding out on stage with his handsome and elegant appearance and playing a very wide repertoire of violin concerti with involvement and musicality. In this recording of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D major all of his positive attributes are now enhanced with a lush, even tone and an intimate approach to one of the violin blockbuster pieces. It is a wholly successful venture.

Bell continues to grow as an artist and much of that growth comes in the quality of tone he now produces. It is creamy where called for and crisp and incisive when challenged. His approach to the Tchaikovsky is a passionate one, though without the overplaying that creeps into so many other violinist's readings. He is well supported by the Berlin Philharmonic under the warmly compatible leadership of Michael Tilson Thomas. This is a Tchaikovsky concerto performance to cherish.

Adding to the recording are three well selected works by Tchaikovsky - the playful 'Danse Russe' from 'Swan Lake', 'Meditation, in D major', and 'Serenade melancolique, for violin & orchestra in B minor'. They are beautifully performed and feel like well-deserved encores to the concerto! Highly recommended. Grady Harp, October 05
Comment 55 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Audio CD
I was very excited to hear Joshua Bell was rerecording the Tchaikovsky and rushed out to buy a copy of this CD the day it was released. Maybe it's due to my high expectations, but after listening to it I was slightly disappointed. In the cover notes it discusses how Joshua wanted to make a more "intimate" recording. I think he succeeds on that point. The second and third movements are magnificant, and his sound is very full and played with absolute precision. In fact, I would go as far as saying the second movement is as good as I've heard in any recording of the Tchaikovsky.

My main complaint is with the 1st movement (allegro moderato). In an effort to make it more intimate he has slowed it down to the point that it really seems to drag. It's about half a minute longer than the first movement in his 1988 recording, but to be honest it seems much longer. I've always viewed the first movement as being more of an orchestral piece than a violin solo, and because the solo parts are slower, the speed of the orchestra seems ponderous and lacks life. The third movement is a full minute longer than his 1988 recording. However, I don't think it's as noticeable because the third movement is sometimes played too fast anyway, and I think slowing it down allows the audience to hear the notes better. This is not neccessary with the first movement, because it generally has a slower pace and longer notes to begin with.

You can understand how someone like Joshua Bell, who has already recorded most of the standard repertoir, may want to challenge himself and the audience by trying different interpretations of the standard violin fare.
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Format: Audio CD
The reviews here of this performance remind me of the reviews a few years back of a woman's rendition of a couple Bach cantatas. They focused on the beauty of her singing and nothing else.

As I said then, classical music collectors traditionally want more than a good performance, which in the CD era are a dime a dozen. To spend money on a full-price CD -- or, in this case, a $10-$16 CD -- buyers want not only performance but truthful sound and packaging that meets their needs.

In this recording, the interpretation is brilliant, the recording is magnificent but hardly truthful, and the packaging borders on failure. First, Bell's interpreation, captured from a January 2005 concert recording in the Berlin Philharmonie.

Bell, who is among the most precocious of today's young wunderkinds, is so different here from his recording of the Beethoven and Mendelssohn concertos that he appears to be a different person. He even looks like a different person on the CD cover and inside pages (more on that later.)

His playing eshcews the fire and brimstone violinists have portrayed in this most romantic of concertos. In its place, Bell substitutes unTchaikovskyian subtlety, lingering rhapsody, and portamento on distended themes in his near 20-minute operning Allego moderato. This not only changes the character of the score marking to Adagio, it creates a different concerto than many have ever heard.

His approach is detailed in the notes and maybe best described when Linda Kobler says: "Bell compares the concerto's strenuous non-stop soloist's playing to 'running the four minute mile.' Its (the concerto's) brilliant execution is still, however, the sine qua non of great violin playing."

Does it succeed? That depends on your perspective.
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12 Comments 89 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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It used to be easy to dismiss Joshua Bell. True, he has always been a talented musician, but in the early years of his career, his publicists seemed more intent on selling his image rather than his ability. Of course this is nothing new. It happened in past generations, it happens today, and will happen in the future. While many of the young superstars tend to fizzle, Joshua Bell has not and has shifted from being a kid with talent to a young musician who has something significant to contribute to classical music, a musician who cannot be ignored by audiences or critics.

For this recording, Bell has selected one of his favorites, the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. This is not his first recording of the work, but he has said in interviews it is one of his favorite pieces and he likes to explore ways of nuancing his interpretations. This is the case in this recording. Bell gives a solid performance of the work and since it is a live recording, there is a certain intensity not always found in studio recordings. There are two studio recorded pieces included on the disc: The Meditation in D Minor and the Russian Dance from SWAN LAKE. The Meditation provides the listener another opportunity to hear Bell's sumptuous playing and the Russian Dance gives him the opportunity to display the musical fireworks he can employ to thrill an audience. The Berlin Philharmonic is under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas. Thomas' conducting is more subdued than other well known Berlin Philharmonic conductors of the past, namely Karajan and Bohm, but it seems as if he does so to bring out the soloist's gifts. Unfortunately, the orchestral playing does not match the excitement of Bell's playing at some points in the Concerto and in the Russian Dance.
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