Wednesday, 9 October 2002

I sat open-mouthed at Viktor Tretyakov yesterday evening. His "later" Paganini first violin concerto is quite staggering for a public performance (or even for any performance). In the end, though, Tretyakov -- for all his incredible exploits -- is not my favourite violinist. He sounds like a true Soviet People's Artist on steroids. Brilliance, technique, stamina, stunning virtuosity. But he does not communicate any particular love of the music he is playing. Makes you think back to other People's Artists such as Milstein, Heifetz, Oistrakh, Kreisler et al who often communicated so much more than stunning virtuosity. Even Kogan, whom Tretyakov resembles, played forte and piano, and often played with great tenderness.
A modern equivalent of Tretyakov is probably James Ehnes, whose (very good) Brahms concerto I recorded recently features irreproachable violin playing. But ...

Sunday, 6 October 2002

A very fin de siècle evening, with Soile Isokoski (with Marek Jonowski) singing Stauss’s Vier letzte Lieder, and the 1972 Manchester recording of Jascha Horenstein conducting Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde ( Alfreda Hodgson, John Mitchinson, BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra).
There is something wonderful about this Horenstein Mahler recording, one of eight recordings of the work I have, and the only one I really like to listen to now – with maybe Klemperer or Haitink now and again. Horenstein didn’t have a world class orchestra, nor big-name soloists. But there is a passion and integrity about this performance from all 110 performers that makes it pretty unique. Everyone is giving of his or her best: and it shows.
Soile Isokoski in the Strauss songs is also superb, but it’s a pity her diction isn’t better. With John Mitchinson in the Mahler, you can hear every word he sings.

Friday, 4 October 2002

Recorded Leonidas Kavakos off-air in Paganini (with BBC Scottish Orchestra under Carlo Rizzi; Edinburgh Festival, August 2002). An excellent performance of the second Paganini violin concerto, plus "i palpiti" (with orchestra). Kavakos is a fine violinist; musical, risk-taking and technical highly proficient. It's good to see a modern violinist frequently performing virtuoso music, rather than churning out yet another Mozart, Beethoven or Bruch concerto. I am glad I have long been a Kavakos fan! His playing is quite a tonic.

Tuesday, 1 October 2002

A lot of pleasure yesterday evening from listening to Christian Ferras and Pierre Barbizet playing the sonata by Lekeu. The sonata -- the first two movements, anyway -- is excellent. Sort-of fits in with Elgar. The playing by Ferras and Barbizet is magnificent.