This CD is part of a series entitled the ‘Freiburger Edition’. The edition evidently sets out to document the best of the Freiburg PO’s broadcast concerts as featured on Sudwestfunk in the Landesstudio Freiburg.
Two classic Russian works are offered on a reasonably well filled CD. First of all let me applaud the choice of the second Tchaikovsky piano concerto. The first would have been a more ‘obvious’ but more hackneyed option. As it is the second concerto is a determinedly independent work which refuses to ape the first concerto except occasionally in the first movement. On the debit side it does not have the world-conquering melodies of the first concerto. This version plays for just over 45 minutes and while in no way effacing the Gilels version from some years ago or indeed Peter Donohoe’s (both EMI – not sure if they are currently available) is a vivid document gaining from the immediacy and risk-taking of a live concert situation with an audience (largely silent) present. Certainly, Andreas Boyde gives every sign of revelling in the work – both its showy splendour and its inwardness (very much to the fore in the chamber music interplay between piano, violin and cello). The first movement Allegro Brillante is stormy and turbulent aspiring to the heights of the romantic ideal in a sort of parallel to Manfred . While without the shocking overwhelming gusto and great tunes of No 1 is still has its moments and more especially in first movement with its celebratory theme like some grandiose coronation hymn. The second movement has extensive work for solo violin and cello played with Brahmsian passion, occasional introspection and chamber music texture. The finale glitters like Christmas and is clearly a progenitor of the five Saint-Saens piano concertos and especially the second.
I have less to say about the Shostakovich Ninth. After the first movement which begins with the most sprightly woodwind gloriously recorded with excellent stabbing attack I found that the tension occasionally sagged. This is a pity because Johannes Fritzsch (the conductor) clearly took to the work with a Rozhdestvensky-like pleasure in the more energetic movements. The sardonic humour of the solo violin’s squeaking serenade is brilliantly caught suggesting a zany serenade of the mice. The Moderato is much more serious but a lot less concentrated and wayward. It wanders by some desolate place like Warlock’s Curlew . The Presto is vintage Shostakovich startlingly like a bellicose Malcolm Arnold with the orchestra skating and skittering like maddened squirrels. The black Largo reminded me of Bernard Herrmann’s fantasy film music. The final allegretto is knockabout fun.
The notes are in English and German. The recording quality is excellent.
Two concert performance recordings which never less than enjoyable and which in the case of the Concerto bid fair to be anyone’s library version. Let me commend the concerto to any collectors who, with me, rejoice in live concert recordings. Recommended in these terms.
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