by Michael Lyons, Music Director
Certainly the choices with regard to recordings of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto are endless. For me it is the 1972 version by Itzhak Perlman, tough to beat for overall effectiveness. Sometimes though I just go to the 1958 Isaac Stern to re-live that world land-speed record breaking performance. And of course, you can’t beat Heifetz for overall warmth and sentimentality.
If you are in the market for one, the new Joshua Bell is definitely worthy of consideration. A very respectable performance on the part of the soloist is heightened by this beautiful lush sounding recording itself. If you like the cellos and basses to actually make the hair on your arms stand up then just listen to the opening track. This is gorgeous deep dark orchestra sound at its best. This is the Berlin Philharmonic as it should sound on disc.
Michael Tilson Thomas has delivered some of the most delicate and sensitive accompanying that I have heard in a long time. This concerto, known as a fiery warhorse to show off the violinist’s flaming technique, takes on an entirely different flavour in this performance. The interplay between soloist and orchestra is both dramatic and understated at the same time.
Never have I heard the solo violin part so beautifully integrated into the orchestra writing. The cadenzas and exposed solo passages are intimate, even secretive at times. In the first movement cadenza Bell’s performance is trance-like—and when the orchestra returns the subtelty is remarkable. Beautiful and teasing describe this Tchaikovsky without being overly romantic.