Friday, 7 January 2011

CD Reviews (The Straits Times, January 2011)

Residentia Orkest Den Haag / Neeme Järvi
BIS 1822

This disc of 20th century violin concertos is ample proof that glorious tonality and Romanticism in composition was well and alive in the age of the avant-garde and experimentation. The Violin Concerto (1945) of Wolfgang Erich Korngold (1897-1957) is already an established classic, with its themes extracted from four 1930s Hollywood movie scores including Anthony Adverse and The Prince and The Pauper. This is silver screen music with tear-jerking tunes at its most opulent, no doubt aided by the championship of one Jascha Heifetz who recorded it on the RCA Red Seal label.

The 1948 Violin Concerto of Balys Dvarionas (1904-72) is virtually unknown, totally eclipsed by the contemporaneous First Violin Concerto of Shostakovich. The first Lithuanian violin concerto to be composed, it shares with Glazunov and Miaskovsky an unusual gift of melody, besides being superbly crafted. The slow movement and rip-roaring finale also bring to mind the best of film music. Israeli violinist Vadim Gluzman gives both scores their due, rich in vibrato and unapologetic virtuosity. Highly recommended.

DON’T MISS: Korngold’s Violin Concerto
performed by Edward Tan
and the Orchestra of the Music Makers
conducted by Chan Tze Law
Esplanade Concert Hall
8 January 2010, 7.30pm
Tickets available at SISTIC

TCHAIKOVSKY Manfred Symphony
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic
Naxos 8.57068

Manfred, inspired by the Romantic character of Lord Byron’s, was Tchaikovsky’s unofficial “seventh” symphony. Spanning almost an hour, this programme symphony – one that relates a story in music – surpasses all of his numbered symphonies in length. Composed in 1885 between the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies, it combines the tragic and lyrical elements of both, and is thought by some to be his finest symphonic work. The monumental 20-minute-long finale, which sees the guilt-ridden Manfred’s redemption through death, concludes with lush strains of a pipe organ, looking ahead to Mahler’s epic creations.

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, directed by its young and dynamic Russian Music Director Vasily Petrenko, delivers the poignant music searing intensity and genuine Slavic pathos. The inclusion of Tchaikovsky’s rarely heard symphonic ballad The Voyevoda, about infidelity and murder, is a generous added bonus.

Manfred Symphony
performed by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Gennady Rozhdestvensky
Esplanade Concert Hall
Friday 7 January 2011, 7.30pm
Tickets available at SISTIC

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