Tuesday 25 November 2014

Philippe Quint’s lovely flexible tempi that allow Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto to breathe revealing more beauties than many of the rival performances on this new release from Avanticlassic

Philippe Quint (violin) www.philippequint.com was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and studied at Moscow's Special Music School for the Gifted with Russian violinist Andrei Korsakov, making his orchestral debut at the age of nine. After emigrating to the United States in 1991, he earned both Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the Juilliard School, graduating in 1998.

Quint has performed around the world, appearing with London Philharmonic, Berlin Komische Oper Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Nordwestdeutsche Symphoniker and the Cape Town Philharmonic. His recordings have received critical acclaim, winning several awards.

His latest recording for Avanticlassic www.avanticlassic.com features the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra www.sofiaphilharmonie.bg  conducted by Martin Panteleev http://martin-panteleev.com in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and violist, Lily Francis www.lilyfrancis.net  and cellists, Claudio Bohórquez www.claudiobohorquez.com  and Nicholas Altstaedt www.nicolasaltstaedt.com  in Arensky’s String Quartet No.2 in A minor.


Of particular interest on this disc is the inclusion of Leopold Auer’s version of the last movement of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op.35. Tchaikovsky intended the first performance of the concerto to be given by the renowned violinist Leopold Auer. It did not appeal to him and this, combined with the great technical difficulties caused him to refuse. The premiere eventually took place two years later in Vienna with the solo part taken by Adolph Brodsky with Hans Richter conducting.

Auer did eventually take up the work but stated ‘I … found it necessary, for purely technical reasons, to make some slight alterations in the passages of the solo part. This delicate and difficult task I subsequently undertook and re-edited the violin solo part; and it is this edition which has been played by me and also by my pupils, up to the present day.’

There is a nicely rounded opening to the Allegro moderato from the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Martin Panteleev. When Philippe Quint enters he draws some lovely tones and with his flexible tempi he follows every detail, never rushing his fences. When he slows the tempo, he brings some exquisite playing, characterful and with fine sonorities. It is this less rushed approach that brings a lovely breadth to this much loved concerto. I have not heard the Sofia Philharmonic for a while. Here they provide spot on support proving themselves to be a fine orchestra with terrific ensemble and taut playing. They slowly build to moments of great bite and drama. There is a sensitive and finely done cadenza, quite superb with Quint bringing a freedom and playfulness. As the movement leads on, Quint draws many varying textures from his instrument before a very fine coda.

The Canzonetta. Andante brings much fine playing from the winds of the Sofia Philharmonic with Quint spinning the lovely theme around the orchestra with some lovely rich, broad violin phrases before the Finale. Allegro vivacissimo where he displays all the virtuosity you could wish for, yet always tempered with fine musicianship, every note always exquisitely shaped. There is terrific ensemble between soloist and orchestra and more very fine woodwind moments. In the rapid passages Quint has such a beautifully light touch to his bow, quite superb as he leads us to the coda.

The fourth track on this new release is the version by Leopold Auer of the Finale. Quint grew up playing the Auer version as did many great violinists of the past. Here it is as finely played as the original version giving us an opportunity to directly compare the two versions and perhaps choose.

Anton Stepanovich Arensky (1861-1906) greatly admired and was influenced by Tchaikovsky, indeed, his String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 35 (1894), for violin, viola and two cellos written the year after the great composer’s death, is dedicated to his memory. Straightaway at the beginning of the Moderato, Arensky’s decision to drop the second violin in favour of an extra cello shows the effect he wished to bring in this subdued, hauntingly beautiful movement. The music soon picks up in mood, though remains wistful and even angry at times. These players bring a freedom and spontaneity to their playing which adds so much to the passion of this performance before we are led to the subdued coda.

The second movement, Variations sur Tchaikovski, receives a lovely flowing performance with these players responding beautifully to each other as they take us through variations that are by turns agitated and gentle and even occasionally quite Tchaikovskian in flavour with lovely string sonorities before the lovely coda.

The Andante Sostenuto opens with deep, mournful unison sonorities before launching into a fast and buoyant theme. The hushed, sombre nature of the music returns but again takes off with some especially fine playing from these musicians as they rush to the coda.

Arensky’s Quartet is revealed to be a work of some substance, passion and beauty by these fine artists.

Surely this is one of the finest Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto recordings to arrive for quite a while. It is Quint’s lovely flexible tempi that allow this music to breathe revealing more beauties than many of the rival performances. Coupled with a superb performance of the Arensky Quartet and with Auer’s third movement revision as a bonus this new release can be thoroughly recommended. The recorded sound in my download was excellent.

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