SERGEI BORTKIEWICZ (1877-1952): Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 22, Symphonic Poem after Shakespeare’s Othello, Op. 19. (World Premiere Recordings)
Catalogue Number: 04R002
Label: Dutton Epoch
Reference: CDLX 7323
Format: SACD hybrid
Description: These two relatively early works give us Bortkiewicz unassociated with his own instrument, the piano. And they’re both huge: the 1922 concerto is 50 minutes and the 1914 Othello is just over 30. The Rachmaninov/Medtner vibe of the piano music is also missing; these are works completely in the Germanic Romantic tradition, the concerto full of Romantic ardor in its 20-minute first movement but offset by periods of relaxed musing which comes to the fore in the wistful and elegaic slow Poème movement while the alla marcia finale has a catchy theme that threatens to become an earworm. The tone poem is suitably exciting, foreboding and passionate but what will really strike you here is the third main theme: Iago sounds like Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel! - yet Tchaikovsky’s two great symphonic poems are equally likely to have been in Bortkiewicz’s subconscious. Sergey Levitin (violin), Royal Scottish National Orchestra; Martin Yates.