Grammy Nominated Vengerov/Rostropovich

February 10, 2004 at 03:03 AM · Nominated twice at the Grammy's was Britten: Violin Concerto/Walton: Viola Concerto, Mstislav Rostropovich, conductor; Maxim Vengerov, violin and viola. I was wondering if anyone who has heard this recording would favor us with some opinions as to its merits--it sounds as if it might be worth throwing 20 bucks at.

Replies (18)

February 10, 2004 at 03:21 AM · Did it win?

February 10, 2004 at 03:31 AM · yeah

February 10, 2004 at 03:35 AM · Greetings,

Mike, sorry I haven`t heard this one.

The classic recordings of these are, to my mind, by Ida Haendel. But then I am a dinosaur collector.



February 10, 2004 at 04:24 AM · Yes, I own this CD. It is absolutely phenomenal. Vengerov is truly a fantastic player and has equal skill on the viola as well as the violin. The Britten concerto has become one of my favorites and it is due in large part to Vengerov's performance of it. I highly recommend it.

February 11, 2004 at 06:29 PM · I didn't know he played the viola aswell? Cool-he is even more talented than I thought he was!

February 12, 2004 at 07:09 PM · Hey all,

Vengerov, on this CD, plays a great Britten--great, I feel, partly because few people have recorded it so he is all the more able to formulate his own unchallenged interpretation-- and a very poor Walton viola concerto--poor because he treats the viola like he does his violin, like an object invented for a beating. His rendition speaks of a violinist that thinks it will be cute to pick up the viola and record a piece. Bad move. For a superior violin-to-viola take on the Walton, buy Kennedy's Walton Violin/Walton Viola Concerto cd. It is fantastic. Given the amazing difficulty of the Walton violin concerto, I wonder why Vengerov didn't pair that with the Britten instead of choking on a much easier piece on the viola...hmmm... :)

February 13, 2004 at 11:14 PM · I'm a violist who just recently switched from violin... and I have to say that I thought Vengerov played too much like a violinist. Yeah, it was "perfect" but I feel like he didn't fully caputure all the beautiful colors that the viola has to offer. Also - there are so many violin concertos.. why did he have to steal one of ours!!!! : )

February 14, 2004 at 01:07 AM · i actually didn't like the walton on his cd particularly because of that "choking" sound (someone described his playing as that before, and i think in this case it's definitely appropriate), and just the way he forced the notes out instead of approaching the viola with the intent of producing natural and beautiful sound, which this concerto captures so well i think. it came out so choppy and agressive that i didn't end up like the result at all, especially at the slower tempos he took. lol, but the britten was good! he seemed to be more comfortable in general on the violin, and i think it just sounded better.

matthew feldman

February 14, 2004 at 01:25 AM · Considering the fact that Vengerov learned to play the viola in just six weeks, I think that the choking noise should be forgiven. Playing on a viola is, obviously, different from the violin. With the violin, you can sometimes apply pressure on the strings which makes the sound brighter (you guys KNOW what kind of pressure I'm talking about...). With the viola, however, applying pressure to the strings (as one would to a violin) makes the choking noise. Vengerov is a violinist, and one of 25+ years. It's hard to discover the little things about the viola (in six weeks), especially when it's so much like the violin that you would expect to play on it like one.

February 14, 2004 at 03:49 AM · violinist adept,

point well taken, though i didn't know that when i heard the recording and was just judging it by ear alone. six weeks is a bit brief though...besides, he could always have done the walton violin concerto :)

February 14, 2004 at 03:52 AM · Correct Adept, but that is exactly the reason why we should not forgive him--for thinking that he can learn the viola in six weeks and then record a classic of the viola repertoire. Not only is that nonsensical, it is quite a brazen injustice, one that should have never been recorded and sold with the Britten. Shame on Vengerov. And Matthew, I am sure he did not record the Walton Violin Concerto because it is so darn difficult-techically, emotionally, and interpretation-wise. Being a virtuoso of Vengerov's grade can only allow you to conquer certain pieces. The Walton, composed for Heifetz himself, is not one that many violinists, including Vengerov, will ever attempt on disc. I am actually glad Vengerov didn't record it. I love the piece so much, I might have passed out at what would inevitably be his most ultimate concerto blasphemy.

February 14, 2004 at 05:35 AM · dwayne,

i ultimately would have to hear him play it first (since he has played elgar, sibelius, and other meaty concertos, and even if they don't technically match the walton, i still think they come close...the britten is no cakewalk either) but if i had to make a guess, i think he wouldn't be able to handle it just yet. i think you made a good point with the viola comments, but i still think that he should just stick to violin concerti, lol even if it means attempting the rediculously difficult ones...

February 15, 2004 at 03:43 PM · i actually have the cd of the walton violin concerto with heifetz and never listened to it( i dont know why) i did a couple of weeks ago and i literally sat there amazed. that piece is so hard! especially the first movement...ah, the whole thing is a pain. and yeah i heard vengerov's walton. im not gonna comment on it b/c uh well, you know.

February 16, 2004 at 02:42 AM · I agree Chris, and I don't even think Heifetz's version is the best of the Walton! Yet, you hear so much of the difficulty in it! Also Matthew, I don't think that Vengerov has recorded the Elgar concerto--that would have made news headlines, lol. That is one that comes the closest, not at all equal, to the Walton in terms of difficulty (for performer, orchestra, etc.). Details aside though, I definitely hear what you are saying about sticking to the violin, lol.

February 16, 2004 at 03:16 AM · dwayne,

quite right! sorry bout that, i was thinking about the dvorak/elgar recording he made but completely forgot what was on it lol :P. anyways, has anyone heard the joshua bell recording of the walton?? i wonder how well he tackled that piece...

February 16, 2004 at 05:29 AM · Have you heard Kyung Wha Chung's recording? It's great!

February 16, 2004 at 10:39 PM · Hey all! Matthew, I have heard Joshua Bell's recording of the Walton, and it was, to the say the least, not good at all. His sound is very mechanical and he does not interpret the music, phrases or anything, he just plays the violin. The recording also sounds really weird, almost like he did not record it with the orchestra. I have many a problem with Bell, but this disc just took the cake! Hey Brian, I have heard Kyung-Wha Chung's version of the Walton--it is amazing. Hers definitely ranks up there with the best, although I don't think it is the best. Her lovely, soulful sound begins to make the piece sound a bit soupy. It is already quite a long piece and her rubato tends to accentuate that. A great recording nonetheless. I still think the best out there is Nigel Kennedy's recording with the Royal Philharmonic. Chung's, Dong-Suk Kang's, and Heifetz's rank a somewhat distant second---all three of which have something uniquely interesting to them!

February 17, 2004 at 02:42 AM · I agree that Vengerov should not have recorded the Walton Viola concerto. Kennedy, or Nigel Kennedy at that time, on the other hand really got a beautiful sound on the viola and actually made me like his viola playing more than his violin playing. Vengerov's basic attitude seems to be that since it's a viola he should press his bow more and he presses quite a bit already on the violin.

I don't care that much for his Britten either.

The Grammy's are awarded based on votes made by a committee, NARAS. The several hundred member body is comprised of rockers, rappers, country singers, and virtually every other genre of music, including classical musicians. However, they all vote on genres other than their own area of expertise in addition to the genre they know. Thus, the Grammy's ends up being a lot about publicity, a rapper that received a free Sharon Isbin cd in the mail and a letter from her publicists might well vote for her without ever hearing her cd. A classical music member can vote for the best R&B album even if they've never heard any of them. Certain artists are nominated for Grammy's almost every year, by the same committee, based on being a known name among them. Emerson Quartet, Sharon Isbin, Murray Perahia, etc. As an artistic accomplishment, for these reasons, a Grammy means nothing. However, the publicity and sales a Grammy generates for an artist is invaluable. Funny enough, there was a year when an entire major orchestra was in NARAS, and unsurprisingly, they won a Grammy that year.

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