The concert at London’s Royal Festival Hall in April last year was one of those rousing ringside events where the supporters gather as at a great party and everybody has a tremendous time cheering and asking for more. The recording was made the following month in Henry Wood Hall, and it preserves much of the sparky atmosphere of the live occasion though of course leaving to us the cheering (which I’m afraid in this establishment is reduced to a grunt or two, usually of approval, from the depths of the armchair).
Valery Gergiev directs the Kirov Opera and Ballet in this magnificent 1998 production of Borodin’s "Prince Igor", presented in a new Mariinsky Theatre performing edition and featuring Mikhail Fokine’s original choreography in the famous Polovtsian Dances. Its four acts tell of the struggle between the Russians and Polovtsian nomads, of Prince Igor’s capture and escape from his noble opponent, Khan Konchak, and of love between Igor’s son, Vladimir, and Konchak’s daughter, Konchakovna.
Schubert himself was an able violinist, whose idiomatic writing for the instrument is charmingly evident in his violin and piano sonatas. Moreover, enhanced by sympathetic recording, Biondi and Tverskaya here play a modern copy of a 1740 violin, and a c1820 Graf fortepiano that vividly evoke this music’s fragrant atmosphere. Arresting spontaneity invigorated by Biondi’s stylish extempore ornamentation reveals a potent mix of youthful vigour, ardent passion and delicate poignancy. An essential disc for all Schubertians.