The String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Opus 11, was Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's first completed string quartet of three string quartets, published during his lifetime. (An earlier attempt had been abandoned after the first movement had been completed.) Composed in February 1871, it was premiered in Moscow on 16/28 March 1871 by four members of the Russian Musical Society: Ferdinand Laub and Ludvig Minkus, violins; Pryanishnikov, viola; and Wilhelm Fitzenhagen, cello.
A generous and unusual pairing of two romantic concertos in the best recordings by "King David", playing his Stradivarius Comte de Fontana, fully animated by Gennady Rozhdestvensky, a modern conductor knowing perfectly the deep Baltic souls.
If what you want is a crackerjack coupling of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto and his First Piano Concerto, this disc is the one to get. With the ardently noble 1971 Nathan Milstein recording of the Violin Concerto with Claudio Abbado conducting the Vienna Philharmonic joined to the recklessly passionate 1973 Martha Argerich recording of the Piano Concerto with Charles Dutoit conducting the Royal Philharmonic, both performances are easily as good as the very best ever recorded.
P. I. Tchaikovsky is considered to be Russia’s great symphonic composer. In his music he achieved a synthesis of the national musical language of Russia and the compositional forms of the western European Romantics. His most famous ballets enjoy a position of honor in the Classical Ballet repertoire on account of their melodic intensity and instrumental brilliance. In the fairy tale “The Nutcracker and the King of the Mice” written by the German Romantic E. T. A. Hoffmann and published in 1814, on which Tchaikovsky’s ballet is based, Christmas provides the realistic setting for a fantastic plot. Fiction and reality are woven together by means of strange and wondrous occurrences to produce a fascinating and unfathomable labyrinth. Both Hoffmann and Tchaikovsky, who began to compose the ballet in his fiftieth year, could identify with the literary figure of the watchmaker Drosselmeier, who gives order to his life through his work. In 1999, exactly 107 years – to the day – after the first performance in St. Petersburg, Patrice Bart’s choreography of Tchaikovsky’s worldwide success The Nutcracker was premiered at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin. Bart placed a prologue before the ballet in which Marie is abducted as a child and in which everything is placed in a modern context.
This well recorded disc from 1985 delivers impressive readings of both of these works. Mullova takes a very individual view of these concertos and has the technical assurance to communicate her view with compelling certainty.
The Tchaikovsky concerto is played in the full uncut version that was written by the composer. This is now becoming more common but in 1985 was still unusual enough to warrant comment. By playing the notes as Tchaikovsky had intended Mullova signals a very serious intent which she carries out throughout these two concertos.