German Record Critics’ Award

Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra

Witold Rowicki

Wanda Wiłkomirska, violin

The Royal Festival Hall, London

Recording: 7th April 1967
 Award-winning recording (see below)

German Record Critics’ Award
German Record Critics’ Award

“Wanda Wiłkomirska presents herself here as one of the great storytellers on the violin. She plays one of the most important concertos of the 20th Century, and the recording technique is sensational. An unrepeatable constellation.”
Wolfgang Wendel, German Record Critics’ Award (Quarterly Critics’ Choice for Q4 2012 in the Historical Recordings category), 5th November 2012

MusicWeb International

“Wiłkomirska remains sweet, and focused, of tone throughout … her assurance is perhaps at its zenith in her playing of the Passacaglia, which is powerful, virtuosic, expressively cogent, and where we find she retains virtuosity and tonal vibrance to the very end. This joins the admittedly small discography of the work, and does so on sheer merit.”

“Rowicki directs a compelling, dramatic Tchaikovsky Four … With a sweeping battalion of strings at his disposal, punctuating brass and amazingly vivid percussion definition, courtesy of another of [OCCDs’] top class microphone placements, this is a seismic rendition of the symphony.”

“Hair-shirt production values from this company ensure that terrific concerts such as this have a continuing and richly deserved afterlife.”
Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International, December 2011

“Rowicki is a sensitive conductor who responds instinctively to every nuance and inflection of Wiłkomirska’s playing. She has a real affinity for the Britten Concerto … Throughout, she meets the technical challenges head on, always taking them in her stride. It’s a performance of compelling conviction…”

“Next up is an electrifying performance of the ubiquitous 4th Symphony by Tchaikovsky … If it’s sheer breathtaking, visceral excitement you want, then look no further … This is certainly the most thrilling and high voltage performance of this symphony I’ve ever heard!”

“The audience are treated to an intoxicaing encore in the shape of a Mazur from Act IV of Moniuszko›s Straszny dwór (The Haunted Manor), setting the seal on one heck of a concert; I wish I’d been there!”
Stephen Greenbank, MusicWeb International, February 2018

International Record Review

“[…] Wiłkomirska’s radiant performance is typical of her supremely agile, subtly inflected and lyrical playing style, and Rowicki accompanies with his characteristic skill. This disc is well worth acquiring for the Britten alone, but Rowicki’s account of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony is remarkable too. This is no routine outing for a familiar warhorse but a thrilling performance that seems to relish living dangerously and that bristles with dark, propulsive energy from start to finish. The impact of the playing is helped by the superb sound of the recording – [… this disc is] an extraordinary success from a technical point of view as well.”
Nigel Simeone, International Record Review, June 2012


“Climbing a few rungs up the sonic ladder finds us in the company of the fine Polish violinist Wanda Wiłkomirska with the Warsaw Philharmonic under a favourite conductor of mine, Witold Rowicki, for a brightly lit presentation of Britten’s Violin Concerto.”

“…stereo results […] rival those that the ‘majors’ were achieving with a budget of thousands! This particular concert […] also includes a highly combustible Tchaikovsky Fourth and the thrilling ‘Mazur’ from The Haunted Manor by Moniuszko.”
Rob Cowan, Gramophone, July 2012

The Strad

“Wanda Wiłkomirska is a distinguished advocate of the Britten Violin Concerto, and was clearly on top form at a Royal Festival Hall performance in 1967, […proving] movingly persuasive in the work’s many lyrical passages.”
The Strad, July 2012


“[The performances] are, in a word, riveting … [Wiłkomirska’s] performance of the very difficult Britten concerto is simply awe-inspiring. I was struck dumb by her increasingly arching upward phrases, at times almost making her violin sound as if she were trying to break into the ionosphere … I was absolutely mesmerized by Wiłkomirska’s performance and I think you will be, too.”

“[T]his is a heck of a great disc and I recommend it highly. It won the 2012 German Record Critics’ prize, and well deserved it.”
Lynn René Bayley, Fanfare, 36:3, January/February 2013 Review Magazine

“At the time, [a live performance in Chicago of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony by the Warsaw Philharmonic under Witold Rowicki in the early 1970s] was the greatest performance of the symphony I’d ever heard. … Well, here it is. … [this] is in every way the same kind of performance I was to hear in Chicago a few years later, and it is every bit as good as I remembered it.”

“Wiłkomirska and Rowicki have the full measure of this complex and tragic work [Britten Violin Concerto], and their performance is as heart-rending and searing as the composer’s own, recorded for London a few years later.”

“What you get […] is an orchestra playing with an intensity rarely encountered in studio performances. Rowicki asks for everything they have, and that’s exactly what they give him. Finally, the sound is very good for a live performance from 1967, spacious and brightly lit … this recording is an important document of a remarkable concert. If you’ve been looking for a Tchaikovsky Fourth that burns at the white heat, here it is.”
Max Westler, Review Magazine, October 2013

Customer reviews

“Really, your recording is of demonstration quality, with all the clarity one could ask for. The balance between soloists and orchestra, the dynamic range and the stereo separation are excellent. Well done!”
Graham B. Slater, former BBC engineer, private correspondence, 5th February 2012

“[T]his is a breathtaking performance of the Britten […] Musicianship of the highest order from sol[o]ist, conductor, and orchestra IMHO. And a simply stunning live performance exquisitely recorded. Nothing is lost. Quite outstanding, and one of my ‘best buys’ this year.”
Andrew Magnay, UK on the forum, 22nd May 2012

Track listingTime
Benjamin Britten: Violin Concerto, op 1529' 43"
1  I Moderato con moto – Agitato – Tempo primo*†8' 25"
2 II Vivace – Animando – Largamente – Cadenza –
III Attacca – Passacaglia: Andante lento – Un poco meno mosso
21' 17"
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony no 4 in F minor, op 3638' 10"
3  I Andante sostenuto – Moderato con anima16' 19"
4 II Andantino in mòdo di canzona8' 23"
5III Scherzo: Pizzicato ostinato5' 11"
6 IV Finale: Allegro con fuoco8' 16"
Encore: Stanisław Moniuszko: Straszny dwór (The Haunted Manor)5' 10"
7Act IV Mazur5' 10"
Total time:73' 03"

*Sample extract (control with the Sound Sample tab at the top of the page)

†This track may also be heard on the opening News page and on the Sampler CD

WINNER, German Record Critics’ Award

5th November 2012

Orchestral Concert CDs is thrilled to have won the prestigious German Record Critics’ Award (Quarterly Critics’ Choice for Q4 2012 in the Historical Recordings category) with CD12/2011.

Translated into English, the award’s verdict about the recording reads:

“Wanda Wiłkomirska presents herself here as one of the great storytellers on the violin. She plays one of the most important concertos of the 20th Century, and the recording technique is sensational. An unrepeatable constellation.”
Wolfgang Wendel

With reference to the award, Wanda Wiłkomirska commented: “Naturally I am delighted about the prize, and very proud.”

Orchestral Concert CDs is particularly pleased that the award acknowledges not only the sublime musical performance but also the exceptional quality of the sound recording.

The “sensational” recording technique referred to in the award verdict – known as CNSTR – is not unique to this disc; as our standard approach, it is used with all recordings in the OCCDs range.