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Sarah Chang|Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 99 - Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 19

Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 99 - Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 19

Sarah Chang/Sir Simon Rattle/Berliner Philharmoniker

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On EMI Classics' Shostakovich, Prokofiev: Violin Concertos, eminent and beauteous violinist Sarah Chang is joined by Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic in the two big twentieth century Russian violin concerti. These two works are not combined on CD quite as often as one might think, and mostly appear together in collections devoted to violinists who have played both, for example Itzhak Perlman and David Oistrakh. Chang plays both works outstandingly well, silvery and heartrendingly responsive in the slow passages of the Shostakovich, while fleet, slashing, and zesty in the fast sections of the Prokofiev. Rattle shows more restraint than is his wont here, willing to lay back and let the soloist remain the star of the show and yet adding ample, and artfully modeled, support from the orchestra. The disc comes in just under an hour in length, and some might wonder if an encore from Chang or other such bonus might have been considered here to fill the product out a bit more.
The essential problem with this release is the recording, recorded live at Philharmonic Hall in Berlin and culled together from as many as 10 concert appearances made in June and September 2005. EMI has managed to eliminate all coughs and throat clearings from the audience, and wisely seems to have found a way to dodge out applause without lopping off the ends of the pieces. In louder passages, the recording is quite good and even retains a little three-dimensional perspective from the hall, but in quieter ones, the music occasionally seems to drop below a comfortable listening level. It even does so in places where one wouldn't expect it to, such as in the fugato section in the middle of the Scherzo in the Shostakovich. In addition, there are some problems of phase between microphones during the violin's long cadenza in the same concerto, making the instrument sounding woody and congested for a spell. Sarah Chang playing is great through this whole disc, and if that is the major consideration in picking up Shostakovich, Prokofiev: Violin Concertos, go ahead -- it should prove entirely satisfactory on that score. Be prepared, though, to jockey the volume knob a bit here and there.

© TiVo

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Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 99 - Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 19

Sarah Chang

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1
Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 99: I. Nocturne. Moderato
00:12:03

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Stephen Johns, Producer - Berliner Philharmoniker, Orchestra, MainArtist - Sir Simon Rattle, Conductor, MainArtist - Sarah Chang, Violin, MainArtist - Mike Clements, Engineer

A Warner Classics release, © 2024 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 2005 Parlophone Records Limited

2
Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 99: II. Scherzo. Allegro
00:06:38

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Stephen Johns, Producer - Berliner Philharmoniker, Orchestra, MainArtist - Sir Simon Rattle, Conductor, MainArtist - Sarah Chang, Violin, MainArtist - Mike Clements, Engineer

A Warner Classics release, © 2024 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 2005 Parlophone Records Limited

3
Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 99: III. Passacaglia. Andante
00:08:46

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Stephen Johns, Producer - Berliner Philharmoniker, Orchestra, MainArtist - Sir Simon Rattle, Conductor, MainArtist - Sarah Chang, Violin, MainArtist - Mike Clements, Engineer

A Warner Classics release, © 2024 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 2005 Parlophone Records Limited

4
Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 99: IV. Cadenza
00:04:44

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Stephen Johns, Producer - Berliner Philharmoniker, Orchestra, MainArtist - Sir Simon Rattle, Conductor, MainArtist - Sarah Chang, Violin, MainArtist - Mike Clements, Engineer

A Warner Classics release, © 2024 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 2005 Parlophone Records Limited

5
Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 99: V. Burlesque. Allegro con brio - Presto
00:04:51

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Stephen Johns, Producer - Berliner Philharmoniker, Orchestra, MainArtist - Sir Simon Rattle, Conductor, MainArtist - Sarah Chang, Violin, MainArtist - Mike Clements, Engineer

A Warner Classics release, © 2024 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 2005 Parlophone Records Limited

6
Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 19: I. Andantino
00:10:09

Sergei Prokofiev, Composer - Stephen Johns, Producer - Berliner Philharmoniker, Orchestra, MainArtist - Sir Simon Rattle, Conductor, MainArtist - Sarah Chang, Violin, MainArtist - Mike Clements, Engineer

A Warner Classics release, © 2024 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 2005 Parlophone Records Limited

7
Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 19: II. Scherzo. Vivacissimo
00:03:57

Sergei Prokofiev, Composer - Stephen Johns, Producer - Berliner Philharmoniker, Orchestra, MainArtist - Sir Simon Rattle, Conductor, MainArtist - Sarah Chang, Violin, MainArtist - Mike Clements, Engineer

A Warner Classics release, © 2024 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 2005 Parlophone Records Limited

8
Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 19: III. Moderato
00:08:12

Sergei Prokofiev, Composer - Stephen Johns, Producer - Berliner Philharmoniker, Orchestra, MainArtist - Sir Simon Rattle, Conductor, MainArtist - Sarah Chang, Violin, MainArtist - Mike Clements, Engineer

A Warner Classics release, © 2024 Parlophone Records Limited A Warner Classics release, ℗ 2005 Parlophone Records Limited

Album review

On EMI Classics' Shostakovich, Prokofiev: Violin Concertos, eminent and beauteous violinist Sarah Chang is joined by Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic in the two big twentieth century Russian violin concerti. These two works are not combined on CD quite as often as one might think, and mostly appear together in collections devoted to violinists who have played both, for example Itzhak Perlman and David Oistrakh. Chang plays both works outstandingly well, silvery and heartrendingly responsive in the slow passages of the Shostakovich, while fleet, slashing, and zesty in the fast sections of the Prokofiev. Rattle shows more restraint than is his wont here, willing to lay back and let the soloist remain the star of the show and yet adding ample, and artfully modeled, support from the orchestra. The disc comes in just under an hour in length, and some might wonder if an encore from Chang or other such bonus might have been considered here to fill the product out a bit more.
The essential problem with this release is the recording, recorded live at Philharmonic Hall in Berlin and culled together from as many as 10 concert appearances made in June and September 2005. EMI has managed to eliminate all coughs and throat clearings from the audience, and wisely seems to have found a way to dodge out applause without lopping off the ends of the pieces. In louder passages, the recording is quite good and even retains a little three-dimensional perspective from the hall, but in quieter ones, the music occasionally seems to drop below a comfortable listening level. It even does so in places where one wouldn't expect it to, such as in the fugato section in the middle of the Scherzo in the Shostakovich. In addition, there are some problems of phase between microphones during the violin's long cadenza in the same concerto, making the instrument sounding woody and congested for a spell. Sarah Chang playing is great through this whole disc, and if that is the major consideration in picking up Shostakovich, Prokofiev: Violin Concertos, go ahead -- it should prove entirely satisfactory on that score. Be prepared, though, to jockey the volume knob a bit here and there.

© TiVo

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