Admirers of Kyung-Wha Chung will hardly mind the poor value in time-length (Kennedy, also on EMI, does not have a coupling, either), when it so winningly adds to Chung’s discography. It is the more welcome when, since her switch from Decca to EMI, new recordings from her have been all too few. This is an unashamedly traditional performance, one which has little or no regard for period practice, but gives us a sequence of four concertos in warmly relaxed readings. Unlike those of Kennedy and Mutter they avoid extreme speeds, either fast or slow.
The centrepiece of this French-themed recital by Kyung Wha Chung and Kevin Kenner is the splendid violin sonata by César Franck. It is a work long associated with Chung, described by the Financial Times as “one of the greatest violinists of the last half-century”. Newer to Chung’s repertoire is Fauré’s Sonata No 1. As she told Strings magazine, each of the works constitutes “a whole portrait of life itself,” and she drew a comparison with Monet’s paintings: “The reflection of light has endless possibility. The same thing applies to the texture and the sound when you’re playing. There are millions of sounds.”
This eleven CD box set from Korean violinist Kyung-Wha Chung combines her complete Warner Recordings produced in the period 1978/2000. Just to be clear: these are her recordings on EMI and not those released on Decca. Kyung-Wha Chung is an outstanding artist deserving of her elevated ranking in the pantheon of violinists and this set is a confident reminder of why she is so highly placed.
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.
Chung's recording of two beloved Bruch (pieces) is filled with fervent youthful energy and at the same time fragile delicacy. Chung's ability to express the powerful energy not forgetting the detail always amazes me. Simply, the two Bruch recrdings are such a beauty that no word can describe.
One of the best classical cds!
Kyung Wha Chung does a wonderful job of expressing the small details of Max Bruch… All the energy is expressed, just as Bruch intended it to. A must have for all classical collections.- Amazon Reviewer
Myung-Whun Chung is one of the leading conductors of his generation. Also a prize-winning pianist, he is particularly noted for his interpretations of the music of French composer Olivier Messiaen. There has rarely been as talented a group of siblings as Myung-Whun and his two older sisters, cellist Myung-Wha Chung (born 1944) and violinist Kyung-Wha Chung (born 1948). Myung-Whun made his performing debut as a pianist in Seoul at the age of 7. At 8, he flew to Seattle, WA, to begin his American musical studies.
Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, completed about the same time as the Eroica Symphony, has suddenly become popular. One reason for its previous lack of popularity was the fact that three soloists cost three times as much as one normally expensive pianist, violinist or cellist. Another reason is that the work seeks to be a popular success, hence the Rondo alla Polacca with which it concludes. The piano part was intended for Beethoven’s patron and pupil, the Archduke Rudolph von Habsburg, and hence is less technically demanding than the composer’s usual pianistic writing, destined for himself. The standard CD (previously LP) of the work was a spectacular performance and recording made by EMI many years ago with David Oistrakh, Rostropovich and Richter with the Berlin Philharmonic under Karajan. It was opulently played with the BPO’s luscious sound, but has little to do with what Beethoven would have heard in 1804. Another choice was the version of Stern, Rose and Serkin (Sony), less lush and not so high-powered as Karajan’s.