Being a Bernstein fan in many works since 1972, I bought this Sony Royal Edition release expecting more than I got from the Violin Concerto. Though Isaac Stern's virtuosity is never in doubt, something just doesn't "gel" in his recording of Beethoven's only violin concerto with Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic. Tempos tend to be on the slow side, but the sound is a little harsh in climaxes, and at times the overall effect is tedious. Other listeners may not agree, but I prefer Mutter/Karajan (DG) in this work. I have read in various sources that Stern's later recording of Beethoven's Violin Concerto with Daniel Barenboim/ New York Philharmonic (Odyssey, no coupling; Sony with discmates) is better than Stern/Bernstein.
Bernstein's Overtures, "Leonore III" and "Consecration of the House" are both excellent. The sound is wonderful, and if "Consecration" seems a bit tame at first, it builds to a huge climax of intensity: the closing measures have a great air of...
Recorded on April 20, 1959, this version of Beethoven's Violin Concerto can serve as your perfect, "standard" version. By today's standards, increasingly inspired by Historically-Informed performance practice (HIP), e.g. increasingly brisk, it is a rather expansive and lyrical reading, but with no excess, and very middle-of-the-road really in its choices of tempo, halfway between the dragged out expansiveness of, say, Perlman-Giulini (1981, Violin Concerto) or, more recently, Rachel Barton Pine (Beethoven, Clement: Violin Concertos), which underlines the composition's lyricism at the expense of its muscularity and drama, and the (sometimes suffocating) urgency of Heifetz...
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