Editorial Reviews - Amazon.com
Eugene Ormandy recorded the New World Symphony many times, though this recording is special in that it features the London Symphony Orchestra rather than the Philadelphia Orchestra. Maybe that accounts for the extra edge of excitement, for this is without question one of the great recordings of the piece. It's coupled with a warmly appealing performance of the Serenade for Strings, and at budget price this recording is an easy recommendation. --David Hurwitz
In October of 1880, Tchaikovsky reported to the admiring Madame von Meck that "recently my Muse has been benevolent. I have written two long works very rapidly - the 1812 Overture and a Serenade in four movements for string orchestra. The Overture will be very noisy. I wrote it without much warmth of enthusiasm; therefore it has no great artistic value. The Serenade, on the contrary, I wrote from an inward impulse. I felt it, and I venture to hope that this work is not without artistic qualities."
It is easy to understand why Chausson’s Concert is not as regular a feature of concert programmes as, say, Franck’s Violin Sonata. After all, a work for piano, violin and string quartet must surely have an instrumental imbalance. How can Chausson occupy all three violin parts for nearly forty minutes? In short, he does not. Nor does he try. Much of the Concert is essentially a sonata for violin and piano with an accompanying, though essential, string quartet. Chausson’s refusal to involve the quartet at every juncture merely to justify the players’ fees results in a signally well-balanced late Romantic work. When the quartet does feature on an equal footing, the effect is all the more telling. The fingerprints of Franck can be detected readily throughout the Concert, but in this and the Piano Quartet, Chausson’s individuality overcomes his teacher’s influence. Indeed, there are premonitions of Debussy, Ravel and even Shostakovich. Tangibly the product of live performances, these accounts traverse the gamut of emotions, bristling with energy, lyricism and conviction, and ensuring that this disc will never gather much dust.
…And Herreweghe himself is actually an apt interpreter of the work. Not only does he have a knack for bringing out better than the best in his performers, but he actually seems to believe in the spiritual and sublime essence of the work, a very, very rare quality in any conductor these days…
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.