Saturday, 7 July 2012

Georg Kulenkampff in Tchaikovsky

Even after all my CD purges, I still appear to have 80 (!) versions of Tchaikovsky's omnipresent violin concerto (not always bought for the concerto, per se; sometimes it's just the other concerto on a CD I wanted at the time).

Actually, almost all the versions post 1960 sound pretty much alike. The piece is taught in every violin conservatoire and there is now a semi-consensus as to how it is to be played. Pre 1950, however, versions vary notably from each other and I enjoyed hearing Georg Kulenkampff playing the work (1939, Berlin). One notices immediately how the violin playing is more relaxed than it is today. The trills are cleaner and crisper. Being before the days of extensive tape editing and splicing, there are more minor fluffs; so what? I sat back and enjoyed the music and the playing, not something I do often nowadays with the Tchaikovsky violin concerto where every violinist plays in the current fashion whilst, conversely, striving to sound different from competitors.

The tranfer by Michael Dutton on the CD I listened to was perfectly adequate, though the different volume levels between some original 78 rpm sides should have been sorted out, as should have the rather clumsy transition between the end of the slow movement and the finale. Good to be reminded of Kulenkampff in fine form, however.


Lee said...

Kogan-Silvestri on EMI is my all-time champion version of the Tchaikovsky VC (pre & post 1960). Do you like it your self? A definite candidate to put onto the EMI SACD re-issue series.

Harry Collier said...

Yes, Kogan is amongst the very best. But it's a very "modern" performance, all power, muscle and macho bowing. Good to have a bit of a change. It would be interesting to have had recordings of the piece played in Tchaikovsky's presence.