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Vieuxtemps: Violin Concertos Nos. 5, 6 & 7

Vieuxtemps: Violin Concertos Nos. 5, 6 & 7

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The Vieuxtemps violin concertos offer a feast for violinists (and listeners) who are attuned to their special charms and have an affinity for Romantic concertos. Misha Keylin scores on both counts. He's a Russian-born, Juilliard-trained American whose traversal of these works for Naxos is capped by this installment of the final three. The Fifth is the most popular of them all, with splendid recordings by Heifetz and Grumiaux, and Keylin's is right up there with them, and better engineered too. He's somewhere between Heifetz's supercharged virtuosity and Grumiaux's slightly understated elegance, combining both of those essential qualities. The Fifth is an oddly constructed work in three movements, the first being three times longer than the other two. While Keylin excels in that dramatic first movement, the sheer poetry of his Adagio and the brilliant tonal qualities he demonstrates in the fiery brief last movement make his performance especially memorable.

The Sixth and Seventh concertos date from Vieuxtemps' last year, 1881, but there are few valedictory qualities to be found in them. The Sixth is a delightful confection pervaded by a light-hearted spirit and teeming with fetching melodies. The longest movement is the first, an Allegro moderato from which drama is largely excluded, the soloist given the requisite virtuoso fiddling duties but within a lyrical context. Keylin's relaxed phrasing and his rich but sugar-free tone make the most of the beauties of the Pastorale, and he's alive to the rhythmic subtleties that make the Siciliano movement so enticing. The Seventh Concerto is made of sterner virtuoso stuff, as in the coda to the first movement, where Keylin never makes anything approaching a strained or ugly sound, and he sails through the final Allegro vivo without appearing to break a sweat. Throughout the disc, Keylin's technical facility is allied to real feeling for the music, without which these works can strain interest.

It's not just a one-man show, either. Both conductors and orchestras provide first-rate support (Yuasa and the Arnhem Philharmonic in the Seventh and Mogrelia and the Slovak Radio band in the other two), and the engineering captures the performances with admirable realism. At the Naxos price, this is a steal. [9/6/2003]
--Dan Davis,
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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 1
    • Release Date:
    • Label: Naxos
    • UPC/Barcode: 747313201624
    • Item Number: 8557016