Julia Fischer, Russian National Orchestra – Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D, Op.35 (2006) MCH SACD ISO

Julia Fischer, Russian National Orchestra – Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D, Op.35 (2006)
SACD Rip | SACD ISO | DST64 2.0, 5.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 01:08:03 minutes | 3,34 GB
Genre: Classical | Publisher (label): PentaTone

The solo violin did not occupy a central position within the oeuvre of Peter Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893). He was himself a pianist, and composed three piano concertos, as well as chamber music, operas and ballets. That probably explains why he composed no more than one violin concerto. Certainly, it was composed shortly after the most profound crisis in his personal life, i.e. his marriage to Antonia Milyukova in 1877: “The marriage ceremony had only just taken place, and I had been left alone with my wife, realizing that fate had linked us inseparably, when it suddenly came upon me that I did not feel even simple friendship for her – rather, an aversion in the truest sense of the word. Death seemed to me to be the only way out, yet I could not even contemplate suicide.” Admittedly, his friends, such as Nikolai Kashkin, were aware of this personal disaster: “Tchaikovsky himself looked somewhat bewildered, did not say a word about this new situation during our conversations, and his marriage remained – as it did for his other friends – a mystery to us.” However, Tchaikovsky did not seem to change as far as the rest of the world was concerned, as endorsed by his colleague Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, who mentions the following in his autobiography My musical life: “After approximately 1876, Tchaikovsky – who was living in Moscow at the time – regularly visited our home about once or twice a year. Whenever he came to St. Petersburg, he enjoyed coming to see us. Usually, his visits took place on the days when our musical circle came together… In those days as also later on, Tchaikovsky was an endearing person with whom to talk and, in the best sense of the word, a noble man”. He reacted to his disappointment in the marriage with illness (gastritis, headaches, insomnia) and sought refuge in work: a hasty removal to St. Petersburg also helped him to overcome this “tense situation”, as his friend Nikolai Kashkin later recalled.

Review by fafnir December 23, 2006
Performance: 5 Sonics: 5
All too often one had high expectations for a disc only to be disappointed either with the performance, the sound, or sometimes both. In the case of Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, the bar for me was set very high. For 50 years (I can hardly believe it) the Heifetz/Reiner recording has been the standard. This performance has been imprinted in me to an extent that all others seemed second best.
Therefore, I am pleased to say that Heifetz needs to move over; this performance is fantastic and the recording is as good as you can get. If fact, I have little to add to Castor’s excellent review. This is a great disc and an essential SACD purchase – easily one of the top ten for 2006 or any other year.
I eagerly await the Brahms and Mozart discs to be released this year.

Review by Julien March 10, 2007
Performance: 4 Sonics: 4
Julia Fischer is highly talented, but still can improve a lot in order to really be remembered 100 years from now. She is still not able to artistically express everything she has (to me she is far from her peak), especially her vibrato is out of control as soon as she plays faster or excited. This is the main problem in an already beautifully played second movement for example. (We used to call that type of vibrato the “goat style”)
But what disturbs me more is the lack of rhythmical feeling in the third movement, coming from her and the orchestra. Stern and Ormandy (Sony SACD) have it all, like it or not. This is still very young playing, and guessing from what I hear here I wouldn’t like to hear Julia Fischer in tango music for example…
Julia Fischer is at her best in soft and piano, which can be a rare quality nowadays. But she expresses herself a lot with her sound quality and a beautiful vibrato (in the pianos), and not enough on the vertical or rhythmical line (more vertical and varied bow work would be very welcome).
So, based on her true sensibility, my guess is that her playing could really be something in 20 years.
Something to praise anyway is her ability to play with the orchestra. The orchestra itself of course is doing a great job, but she is one of those soloists who listen so well and she makes her playing fit in the whole picture as if it was a chamber music work. I think the fact that she is a good pianist herself and practises all scores on the piano plays a role here.
Now the sound.
Very simple, I will rate the stereo and MC versions the same way, because both have the same problem and the same qualities. Very good job as always with Pentatone anyway, but the sound has this soft quality I don’t find very natural, lacking here the crisp and punch and direct side you find in the Jurowsky Shostakovich 1&6 recording. In stereo, I had the same problem with the Pentatone Nutcracker SACD.
The interesting part is that I understand both this recording and the Jurowsky one were made under the same conditions, same studio, same recording team, and even same orchestra. Different conductor though, and funnily enough, that soft side is very similar to Julia Fischer’s sound and personality. But soft on soft in not my cup of tea, and even though I guess she likes it this way I still believe her beautiful sound would sound even a lot better with the transparency of the Jurowsky recording.
Of course, the good thing with Pentatone is that I still haven’t heard a true disappointment among that many recordings from them, which is not the case for most companies (Deutsche Grammophon…). So, still bravo!

Review by Windsurfer March 12, 2007
Performance: 5 Sonics: 5
I’ve known this concerto since about 1955. My first recording of it was by Zino Francescatti and the New York Philharmonic on a Columbia LP. Soon to follow were recordings by Stern, Oistrach, Heifetz, Milstein, Perlman, Szeryng, Ferras, and then there were CDs from Mutter, Mullova, Bell, Repin, and Vengerov.
As an interesting aside, I read an interview of Victoria Mullova some time ago where she said she was dropping the Tchiakovsky concerto from her repertoire because it represented too much effort on the part of the violinist for the small musical value, she felt the piece represents. Having heard several performances in concert as well as the above recordings I was thinking in agreement with her assessment of the piece and back in December of 2005 when my wife and I had an opportunity to hear Fischer live in New York, playing the Tchaikovsky, I secretly thought to myself – why the Tchaikovsky? Here is an overplayed warhorse that has far less musical value than so many other works that the public never gets to hear. Why not Bartok, Berg, Beethoven, etc…
…Then I heard the soloist’s entry: Just her tone quality in itself was arresting. A tone quality that cast off lights and highlights shimmering “held in midair like stars twinkling in the midnight sky” (words I borrow from a description of her playing – by a professional violinist on www.violinst.com.)
This was something truly extraordinary! The sheer lyricism was jaw dropping but also present was an urgency in the faster sections that no one else – not even Heifetz, who by comparison seems merely rushed, even approaches. In his review of the recording, PolyNomial refers to “lightning-fast changes of dynamic and character, all executed at the same time as linking into the longer line of the music that make it so exciting. It is to me a matter of pulse and Fischer and Maazel with the New York Philharmonic maintained that pulse throughout the entire last movement leaving me just about breathless.
I hoped the recording with the Russian National Orchestra would equal that performance I heard in Avery Fisher Hall. I was not disappointed! It actually surpasses, and by a good margin, the live concert.
None of the recordings listed above has given me even remotely so much enjoyment as this present disc from Julia Fischer and PentaTone.
I’ve had this for about 3 months now. I hadn’t previously felt pressed to express my own experience of it in a review, because the very excellent reviews by PolyNomial, Castor, and Fafnir really said everything I thought I needed saying.
However, in the light of what I feel is an absurdity recently published here on the subject, further examination of the qualities of Fischer’s performance of the concerto seems reasonable.
Over the last couple months, I’ve listened to the disc several times – also discussed it with friends who have heard it here and in their own homes. Our consensus remains well expressed by the reviews written by Castor and Polynomial and Fafnir.
In summary: This, at least for now, and probably for years to come, is THE recording of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto to own and enjoy. Others will (one should hope) be different, offering individual felicities not really possible here because of the interpretive choices made. We do not miss them, for when a choice is made to play something fast, one cannot also play it slowly at the same time…and conversely! The enormous satisfaction we derive from listening to this disc tells me that Fischer and Kreizburg made the right intrepretive choices.
I listened this morning to the entire concerto and then to the second movement (4 times) and to the third movement 3 times. The second movement is simply beautifully done – Certainly more beautifully done than on any of the records I listed above. Throughout the movement the violinist conveys a lovely deeply felt lyricism, and, contrary to the opinion expressed in the review immediately above, control of her bow arm and left hand are beyond question.
In the faster sections of the first movement and in the last movement, Both soloist and conductor demonstrate true mastery of their respective trades. Tension builds and is released into flowing lyricism, tension builds and builds until the final chords and you want to burst into applause right in your listening room and as PolyNomial said in his review: the only thing missing is the applause you know belongs at the conclusion of this performance for the ages.
I found no, again – absolutely no evidence here of any “out of control” aspects of any part of her playing – certainly not her vibrato. As for rhythmic felicity perhaps present in Stern’s recording; its different. If you prefer Stern go listen to it with all its imprecision of intonation. If as alleged above, this is “youthful playing” we are more than happy with the shear excitment and lyrical beauty this perfectly played performance overwhelmingly conveys. This disc is truly a revelation! Please – don’t miss it!


01 – Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35 – Allegro moderato – 18:07
02 – Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35 – Canzonetta (Andante) – 06:44
03 – Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35 – Finale (Allegro vivacissimo) – 10:11
04 – Sérénade mélancolique, Op. 26 – Andante – 09:33
05 – Valse – Scherzo, Op. 34 – Allegro (Tempo di Valse) – 07:54
06 – Souvenir d’un lieu cher, Op. 42 – Meditation – 09:17
07 – Souvenir d’un lieu cher, Op. 42 – Scherzo – 03:15
08 – Souvenir d’un lieu cher, Op. 42 – Melodie – 03:22



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