Friday, March 23, 2012
Tchaikovksy - Violin Concerto/Meditation, Stern, Rostropovich (CBS - 76725)
There are certain works which always leave a big effect on the listener. Today's record is about such a release by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. There is not much need to explain the late romantic era composer from Russia. I don't know anyone who is not familiar with Swan Lake, The Nutcracker or The Sleeping Beauty. However, even though Tchaikovsky is very well known for his works for ballet, he has created one of the best ever written works for violin. Of course I am not downplaying his symphonies, but when you are talking about a great composer as Tchaikovsky, you cannot stop the list from going on and on.
Tchaikovsky originally wrote his violin concerto for Leopold Auer. Well. Actually he wrote it to his lover Iosif Kotek. They even co-wrote the solo parts together. But later being afraid of his sexual choice being understood by the public, Tchaikovsky wanted to dedicate the work to Auer. More intriguingly, Auer rejected to premier the work since he thought it was "unplayable". Not a good reasoning for an established player. Later on Adolf Brodsky wanted to premier the work and he did with efficiency as we are told. Even though it was premiered, it took some time and effort on Brodsky's side to make it popular. When it became so, Auer also took it into his repertoire. Suddenly it was not so "unplayable" anymore. Moreover, he edited the solo parts based on totally "aesthetic" point of view. He also mentioned that he thought the piece was not at a high standard at first sight and he never rejected the piece as "unplayable", but rather as not suitable to the instrument's characteristic. What a fancy way of saying that he totally misjudged it. At least he had the decency to accept his misjudgment and ask for Tchaikovsky's absolution before the composer's death.
The performance on this record is by Isaac Stern. Obviously, Stern is one of the handful names that can come into mind when you can think of players who can perform this difficult composition with elegance. Actually, upto now among all performances I've heard including Stern's, Perlman's, Oistrakh's, Accardo's, etc, Oistrakh's execution stands alone. Some works are meant for some certain people like Elgar's Cello Concerto for Du Pre and Vivaldi's Four Season's for Perlman. This piece is meant for Oistrakh. On the other hand, I should not put Stern aside as his performance is also very good, but not perfect.
The piece is emotionally so interchanging that it is also hard to endure for the listener. From a very high point of enjoyment, the piece turns frantically to a very low point which can create drops of sorrow. This fluctuating feeling race is also derived by the fresh and gentle performance of Stern. He plays the piece very good which clearly doubles the effect. He is in perfect harmony with the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of another legend Mstislav Rostropovich.
There is also one catch within the record. You first listen the violin concerto with three movements. There is also one more piece on the record Meditation Op. 42 which was originally written by Tchaikovsky as the second movement of the violin concerto, but later he found it not good enough and put it aside with another opus. In contrast to the stronger violin concerto, this piece is similar to Elgar's Cello Concerto with it's naivity and gentle feeling. I am yet to experiment the violin concerto by putting Meditation as the second movement and see how it feels that way, but since Tchaikovsky himself didn't see it right, I doubt I will.
To buy this record: