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** 1/2 TCHAIKOVSKY: Violin Concerto; SHOSTAKOVICH: Violin Concerto No. 1. Midori, violin; Berlin Philharmonic, Claudio Abbado, conductor. (Sony)

October 25, 1998|John Henken

Listening to these suave readings, it is hard to believe that these concertos were ever considered difficult for either fiddlers or public. This is almost a case of playing that is too good to be true to the character of the music. Midori is refined and technically immaculate and Abbado and his Berliners are patrician in support--the resources of this team are truly awesome and everywhere evident. Missing, however, is any sense of urgency or inner myth, any motivation beyond the imposing mechanical accomplishment. The most moving moments come from the exquisitely poignant orchestral exhalations in the Tchaikovsky Canzonetta; the Shostakovich seems merely moody. The plush and balanced sound of these recordings, compiled from live performances at the Philharmonie in 1995 and 1997, is a tribute to the professionalism of all concerned.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four stars (excellent).

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