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CD Review

Henri Vieuxtemps

Violin Concertos

  • Violin Concerto #5 in A minor "Gretry", Op. 37
  • Violin Concerto #6 in E Major, Op. 47
  • Violin Concerto #7 in A minor, Op. 49 *
Misha Keylin, violin
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Mogrelia
* Arnhem Philharmonic Orchestra/Takuo Yuasa
Naxos 8.557016
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Young Misha Keylin completes his cycle of the Vieuxtemps Concertos with this release, capping a most successful series. I interviewed this virtuoso in early 2000 for another publication and found him a most engaging and intelligent artist. Here he leads off with Vieuxtemps' most popular Concerto, the Fifth, with its lopsided structure: a dramatic first movement of more than fifteen minutes duration followed by a short Adagio and an even shorter finale, which together last just over five minutes.

The young Russian-born, U.S.-based artist's effort here challenges the best recordings in this work, which include that of Heifetz, who dispatches the concerto nearly four minutes faster! Keylin's first movement cadenza is tastefully rendered, balancing virtuosity with a keen sense of drama. His Adagio is lovely and brimming with passion, while the diminutive finale is delightfully bouncy, but also muscular, coming across as a sort of extended coda, rather than a bona fide movement.

Keylin tackles the lighter and lengthier Sixth with the right mixture of energy and sunshine and he treats the Seventh more in the spirit of the dramatic Fifth. And he doesn't shortchange the work's virtuosic character, his playing fully up to every technical challenge – try the first movement buildup near the middle, which reappears near the end. In many ways, I liked the Seventh best of all these concertos, though most listeners will prefer the Fifth. The orchestral support in all three concertos is generally compelling, fully competitive with most versions of these concertos by bigger-name ensembles. Naxos provides excellent sound and intelligent notes.

Copyright © 2003, Robert Cummings