TCHAIKOVSKY: Swan Lake Suite – Menuhin, v./Philharmonia Orch./ Efrem Kurtz – HiQ xrcd24

TCHAIKOVSKY: Swan Lake, Op. 20: (Suite from the Ballet) – Yehudi Menuhin, v./ Philharmonia Orch./ Efrem Kurtz – Hi-Q xrcd24 HIQXRCD49, 60:00 (6/24/16)  [Distr. by Warner Classics] ****:

A fine xrcd remastering of a classic performance recording.

Once more, Hi-Q remasters Parlaphone 1958 original analog recordings from the three Tchaikovsky ballets recorded in excerpts by Efrem Kurtz and the Philharmonia Orchestra.  Given that 1916 marks the centennial of violin virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999), the sliken collaboration in some of the world’s finest ballet music becomes even more attractively noteworthy. Menuhin appears thrice in the course of the excerpts, the last of which, the Danse russe from the Supplement materials, provides a rousing finale. As per expectation, the warm and often suavely heart-rending Menuhin violin tone proves ravishing, as in the appearance of the Swan Princess, Odette. Kurtz himself has an excellent grasp of the Tchaikovsky style, although for unbridled passion in particular dances and scenes, I might recommend Fricsay, Markevitch, and Gergiev as my preferences. At every moment, however, the effect of the new mastering process by Tohru Kotetsu at JVC consistently stuns for effects, especially through my BOSE headphones.  The booklet, the slick production qualities, and the recording itself make an extremely handsome package, and I would not mind receiving the Sleeping Beauty disc – also featuring Menuhin’s solo contribution – to complete a powerful triumvirate.

—Gary Lemco

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