Acclaimed violinist Yehudi Menuhin delivers first-rate performances of Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor and Béla Bartók’s Violin Concerto No.2. His stunning tone, intensity and overall virtuosity are engaging and warm. Menuhin is joined by noted conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra. The set will go down as one of the finest violin performances of all time and Menuhin remains one of the most accomplished violinists of the century.
Hailed as ‘the Jascha Heifetz of our day’ (Globe and Mail), violinist James Ehnes is widely considered one of the most dynamic and exciting performers in classical music. He has performed in over 30 countries on five continents, appearing with many of the world’s most well-known orchestras and conductors. Ehnes’s extensive discography of over 20 recordings features repertoire ranging from Bach violin sonatas to John Adams’s Road Movies. Since Vladimir Ashkenazy came to prominence on the world stage in the 1955 Chopin Competition in Warsaw, he has built an extraordinary career as one of the finest pianists of our time. Conducting has formed the largest part of his activities over the past two decades, and he has had a long-standing relationship with the Philharmonia Orchestra, of which he was appointed conductor laureate in 2000.
Featuring John Eliot Gardiner and his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique - and Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 at a 24/96 kHz bit and sample rate, the sound on this disc is awe-inspiring. The 7.1 palette gives a recording engineer the opportunity to map acoustically the orchestra and hall with incredible detail, and this recording does just that.
This is the world premiere recording of Vasks' second symphony. It is a 40-minute, one-movement work which opens with a glorious bang, with the orchestra at its most powerful and busy. A few minutes in, Vasks offers us repose which is almost religious, there is a buildup and then more reflection, and a long crescendo to great might again. The work ends on a beautifully introspective, soft, haunting refrain. Vasks is primarily a Romantic, so the work is tonal; there are touches of Kancheli (but not as much breast-beating), Shostakovich (again, not as pessimistic).
Recordings of Felix Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64, are abundant, and even the pairing with the rarer Robert Schumann Violin Concerto, WoO 23, of 1853 are not as infrequent as they used to be. The thorny Schumann concerto has undergone a reevaluation upward, and plenty of players now concur with the judgment of Yehudi Menuhin: "This concerto is the historically missing link of the violin literature; it is the bridge between the Beethoven and the Brahms concertos, though leaning more towards Brahms." Violinist Carolin Widmann who (like the ECM label on which the album appears) has focused mostly on contemporary music, takes up the challenge of providing something new here, and she meets it. The central fact of the recording is that Widmann conducts the Chamber Orchestra of Europe from the violin. Others have done this before, but few have pursued the implications of the technique as far as Widmann has: the performances are unusually light and transparent, and they are perhaps thus in accord with the sounds an orchestra of the middle 19th century might have produced. Sample the unusually lively, sprightly reading of the Mendelssohn concerto's finale.
This release arguably features the two greatest concertos ever written for the violin: performed by one of the most brilliant violinists of her generation, together with one of the finest orchestras, and under the baton of one of the world’s foremost conductors. This recording of Tchaikovsky/Mendelssohn violin concertos bears witness to the eminence of the collaboration between violinist Arabella Steinbacher, conductor Charles Dutoit and PENTATONE’s Orchestra of the Season January-June 2015, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, and the result thereof.