This was Kyung-Wha Chung's first recording, made when she was 22, just after her sensational London debut in the Tchaikovsky Concerto with the same orchestra and conductor. It is splendid. Only a young, radiantly talented player could make these two tired warhorses sound so fresh and vital; only a consummately masterful one could sail through their daunting technical difficulties with such easy virtuosity and perfection. Her tone is flawlessly beautiful, varied in color and inflection; she puts her technical resources entirely at the service of the music, giving every note meaning and honestly felt expression without exaggeration or sentimentality. The Tchaikovsky has charm, humor, sparkle; the slow movement is dreamy, wistful, and unmuted but subdued and inward. The Sibelius is dark and bleak but full-blooded, passionate, and intense. The orchestra sounds and plays better in the Sibelius.
Like Gilels, Brendel treats the Op. 35 Variations as far more than a poor relation of the Eroica Symphony finale. His approach has less of the urgent, seemingly improvisatory thrust which makes the Gilels DG performance (on LP only) so compelling, but the sharpness with which he characterizes each variation is a delight, each time bringing a moment of revelation, and often relating this essentially middle-period work to much later inspirations. The six Bagatelles of Op. 126 equally find Brendel giving these fragments a weight, concentration and seriousness to reflect what else Beethoven was writing at the time. There is a gruffness of expression with charm eliminated. The third Bagatelle is the more moving for its simple gravity, and only in the final one of the group does Brendel allow himself to relax in persuasive warmth. Fur Elise makes a simple, haunting prelude to the group and the six Ecossaises a jolly postude with Brendel evoking the bluff jollity of Austrian dance music.
Testament to the versatility and musical command that Teodor Currentzis and his unique orchestra and choir possess, this new album brings together two diverse masterworks from two titans of Russian music. Although they have been acquainted for a long time prior, this recording represents the first musical collaboration between Teodor Currentzis and the exceptional violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja. The instant artistic rapport (an “artistic wedding” of sorts) between these two maverick musicians can be heard in this dynamic new recording of Tchaikovsky’s Violin concerto - one of the most popular works in the violin repertory. Currentzis’ authentic approach to the folk influences in Stravinsky’s music (as revealed in Le Sacre du Printemps) is again very present in his interpretation of Les Noces.
Karajan’s Deutsche Grammophon complete recordings is recorded on chronological order. From the “Magic Flute” overture of the 1938 recording used as first recording to the recording of the last in 1989, and the Symphony No.7 of Bruckner. There is no selling separately. It becomes ordering limited production.
This must surely be among the boldest, sweetest, most sensual and most provocatively phrased accounts of Brahms’s Violin Concerto ever recorded. And I can tell you with some confidence, after having recently surveyed a whole host of ‘historic’ violinists playing the same work, that not one of them waives the rules with as much nerve as Anne-Sophie Mutter does here.
These are wonderful performances, full of the flair that made Stern famous. I was glad Sony chose this particular version of the Tchaikovsky with Ormandy and the Philadelphians for his "Life in Music" series, rather than Stern's later version with Berstein and the NYPO. This earlier recording captures Stern with more spontaneity and displays his virtuosity to greater effect. The faster passages of the Tchaikovsky are handled with ease, even at speeds faster than normally heard.
The program for the third volume in the Utrecht Quartet's survey of the complete string quartets of Alexander Glazunov consists of two works slightly outside the composer's five quartets: the five-movement Suite for string quartet and the Quintet for string quartet plus second cellist. As in the group's previous volumes, the sonorities are appropriately lush, the vibrato is aptly wide, and the interpretations are straight from the heart.