Magazine article Gramophone

Bortkiewicz: Violin Concerto

Magazine article Gramophone

Bortkiewicz: Violin Concerto

Article excerpt

Violin Concerto, Op 22 (a). Symphonic Poem after Shakespeare's Othello, Op 19

(a) Sergey Levitin vn Royal Scottish National Orchestra / Martin Yates

Dutton Epoch (F) [SACD] CDLX7323 (81' * DDD/DSD)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Dutton's disc (with its two premiere recordings) is already the second recording released this year devoted entirely to the music of Sergei Bortkiewicz (1877-1952). It makes one wonder anew what would have happened if the composer had escaped the penurious life he suffered, shuffling from one European country to the next, and made for Hollywood, where his talents as a tunesmith and orchestral craftsman would surely have borne fruit and brought him the recognition he deserved.

One could hardly describe his Violin Concerto of 1922 as an adventurous, innovative masterpiece of breathtaking originality. It uses the musical language of half a century earlier and relies on techniques familiar from the concertos of Tchaikovsky, Glazunov, Arensky and others for its lifeblood (though I wonder, listening to the last movement, if Bortkiewicz had not heard Komgold's incidental music for Much Ado About Nothing, premiered in Vienna in 1920). …

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