This may be the slowest opening movement of the Beethoven Violin Concerto on record. Clocking in at 27:20, it's significantly longer than Heifetz for Munch (a zippy 20:35) and even leaves behind the highly recommendable Perlman and Giulini (24:26). If anyone can pull off such a leisurely performance of this miraculous music, it's Maxim Vengerov, who brings his staggering technique, glimmering tone, and his own cadenza to a reading that is nothing if not distinctive -- yet still entirely successful on its own terms. Accompanying is Vengerov's mentor and frequent collaborator Mstislav Rostropovich, who guides the London Symphony with a sure hand while allowing plenty of breathing room. The middle movement is paced more traditionally but still overflows with exquisite lyricism, and the Finale bubbles along to a warmly glowing conclusion. To wrap up the program, Beethoven's two Romances pick up where the Concerto's slow movement left off, further showcasing Vengerov's soulful side in lovely, supple performances. Because of its tempo idiosyncrasy, the Concerto may not be an ideal first choice (Perlman still fits that bill nicely), yet there's no question that Vengerov is one of the top violinists recording nowadays, and this Beethoven is must-hear material for anyone following his remarkable career.