Vengerov plays Mozart and Tchaikovsky

Part of Birmingham International Concert Season 2013/14

Sunday 17th November

Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Polish Chamber Orchestra

Maxim Vengerov violin/director

Mozart Violin Concerto No 4 in D 26’
Violin Concerto No 5 in A, Turkish 31’
Tchaikovsky (arr David Walter) Sérénade mélancolique 7’
Souvenir d´un lieu cher 20’
Valse-Scherzo 12’
Saint-Saëns – Havanaise
                             Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso
Maxim Vengerov has been away too long, but after a remarkable comeback from long-term injury he’s playing with all the charisma and authority that have placed him among the greatest violinists of our time. This concert celebrates two opposite but equal sides of his artistry; the sweetness and brilliance of Tchaikovsky’s violin miniatures, set against two joyous concertos by the composer Tchaikovsky called ‘the Christ of music’: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.Classic FMs’ John Suchet says:

It’s not often that we experience the Polish Chamber Orchestra in Britain’s concert halls, so I urge you to watch this unique band under the directorship of violinist Maxim Vengerov. Out of the soloist spotlight for quite some time due to a shoulder injury, Vengerov is making a welcome return to the concert platform not only as violinist, but conductor. Tonight he and his orchestra play a feast of music by Mozart and Tchaikovsky.

“Maxim Vengerov: new and turbo-charged
The virtuoso Russian violinist talks to Adam Sweeting about fame, family, and his return from career-threatening injury”
Click here for full article – Telegraph
Review by Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post:
Click here for full review
…     “Vengerov, well supported by the Polish Chamber Orchestra, seemed more at home with Tchaikovsky, floating some silken sounds in the Serenade melancolique with fast fingering and crisp playing in the Valse-Scherzo.
Glazunov’s familiar orchestration of the three-part Souvenir d’un lieu cher, with its rich wind writing, sounds like genuine Tchaikovsky so David Walter’s arrangement for string orchestra appeared threadbare although it allowed the solo violin more prominence.
Vengerov seized the opportunity with a particularly luscious Meditation. The best playing was reserved for the two showpiece encores (again in sadly reduced orchestration): Saint-Saëns’ Havanaise, with Vengerov using judicious but juicy portamento, and the Introduction and Rondo capriccioso with dazzling scales and multiple-stopping played with panache. It was almost like having the young Vengerov back.”
Review by Katherine Dixson, BachTrack:
Click here for full review
…     “Violin Concerto no. 5 in A major, “Turkish” is so called because of the oriental ideas introduced in its wild and flamboyant finale. There’s something operatic about the style of the piece, with soloist as protagonist, halting proceedings and taking them off in new directions. The audience was transfixed by Vengerov’s cadenza in the first movement. The gorgeous melody of the central Adagio contrasted to fine effect with the swooping drama of the Finale, with a renewed sense of vigour from the orchestra and accented bowing from the lower strings adding a striking visual dimension.
After the interval came a selection of Tchaikovsky miniatures. Sérénade mélancolique in B flat minor was the epitome of melancholy, with occasional forays into more optimistic territory but with an overriding mood of sadness. There were some lovely cameos, with excellent contributions from viola and cello. Applause was cut short at Vengerov’s request, as he clearly wished all the Tchaikovsky pieces to flow from one to the next. This was an interesting approach since the three pieces of the suite Souvenir d’un lieu cher – the product of Tchaikovsky’s recovery period following his marriage breakdown – could clearly have stood as a single entity rather than being sandwiched quite so seamlessly within bookends. Also in a way it seemed a shame to curb the audience’s adulation, but the net result was that the final flourish of the Valse-Scherzo, a cocktail of sparkling mineral water and full-bodied vodka, issued the challenge: “now you can clap!”  And we did.
And so to those Saint-Saëns encores.  Still in dance mode, we were given Havanaise, the Cuban rhythms soulful and sultry, Vengerov displaying skill and emotion in equal measure, followed by the showmanship of Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso. The audience would gladly have lapped up even more, but as we finally conceded that it really was over, I noticed that the orchestra members were busily congratulating one another with handshakes. Civilisation as we know it.” 

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