Albums

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Violin Concertos - Released November 16, 2018 | LSO Live

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Violin Concertos - Released November 16, 2018 | Channel Classics Records

Hi-Res Booklet
The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra has played Edward Elgar's Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 61, many times, but the work gets new dashes of flavor here from Chinese violinist Ning Feng and Mexican conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto. Regardless of your reaction to them, this release from Channel Classics is worth your time for the inclusion of the delightful little Violin Concerto by Gerald Finzi, which did not have its premiere until 1999. Few recordings are available. The blame for the work's suppression lies with Finzi himself, who considered it an imperfect youthful effort. Perhaps the middle movement lacks the concision of the other two (this was his objection), but it's an exceptionally attractive little neoclassical work, and Finzi was 26 when he wrote it, no teenager. Sample the vigorous hornpipe rondo finale. In the Elgar, Feng studiously avoids the work's reputation for sentimentality, and one could wish for a bit more expression to be applied, say, in the lower register at the beginning of the first movement. The slow movement is ethereal, however, with Prieto keeping the energy moving in an even flow and Feng handling the abundant technical challenges with ease. You may favor his interpretation, and with the Finzi you will be getting in almost on the ground floor.
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Duets - Released November 9, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
At a time when Mozart was writing his first sonatas for violin and clavier, in 1778, it was the done thing to write piano sonatas with violin accompaniment in which the violin part is fairly unobtrusive. The purpose of this was not to put off the target audience for the scores: educated amateurs. But Mozart paid no heed to this convention and took off into a new world with real duets, in which the two instruments found themselves on an even footing. At the same time, he avoided the corrective exaggeration which would appear in some scores which resembled violin concertos with a little piano support. Here we have a perfect balance between the two players: Isabelle Faust on the violin and Alexander Melnikov at the clavier. The latter of the two plays on a copy of a Viennese fortepiano made in 1795 by Anton Walter. The sound balance is utterly perfect, which is a relief, as all too often these sonatas either favour the keyboard part when played on the piano or the violinist tries to force it. We have here two sonatas written in Paris shortly after the death of Mozart's mother (who accompanied him on the journey), and then another from 1787 written in the wake of Leopold Mozart's death. Despite this the composer seems to be putting on a brave face, flashing a smile tinged with a tender nostalgia on the Sonata in E Minor K. 304. © SM/Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released October 26, 2018 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - 5 étoiles de Classica
During the course of a full career, which justly earned him the name of "prince of baroque violinists", Giuliano Carmignola developed a remarkable vision of Bach's works for solo violin. Carmignola, a student of Szeryng and Milstein, knows this repertoire inside and out, creating a feeling of spontaneity and improvisation while remaining closely faithful to Bach's writing. He uses a discreet but present vibrato beautifully (a far cry from some other baroque musicians who step much further back from the material), and he favours a free approach to rhythm and an expressive style that highlights all the colours and subtleties of Bach's phrasing. His playing is influenced by the historical techniques unearthed by modern musicology, but it is also profoundly original, lyrical, and moving. The three Sonatas and three Partitas date back to the 1720s, the era of the great instrumental masterworks known as the Brandeburg Concertos, the First Book of the Well-Tempered Clavier and the Cello Suites. The sonatas take the form of church sonatas – four movements, slow-fast-slow-fast – and the partitas borrow from the old-style dance suites in five, six or even eight movements. © SM/Qobuz
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Violin Concertos - Released October 26, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Le Choix de France Musique
To say that the concerto was one of Haydn's favourite forms would be a bit much, daft even. The man wrote a good hundred symphonies, dozens of quartets, trios, piano sonatas, fifteen or so masses and as many operas, and oratorios... Currently we know of three violin concertos (others being lost or apocryphal), two cello concertos (others... see above), one horn concerto, one for trumpet (there are no others) and at most about ten concertos for piano. Musically, they are fascinating works, but the level of technical skill they demand runs from moderate to a bit tricky. But the First Cello Concerto is not without its moments of difficulty, such as the rapid high notes in the final movement, and it offers some real fireworks. It should also be noted that most of the concertos were written for Esterházy, specifically for the first soloists in the house orchestra of Konzertmeister Luigi Tomasini and first cellist Joseph Weigl. The orchestral accompaniments offered the soloists some fine backdrops: in particular in the second movement of the Concerto for violin in C Major , with the orchestra's string section accompanying the solo violin with a sort of lute-playing that becomes a kind of serenade à la Don Giovanni. Amandine Beyer takes up the violin for this recording, while Marco Ceccato deals with the cello solo – both members of the Gli Incogniti ensemble ("The Unknowns"), a fluid grouping that plays without a conductor. Their leaderless style means that the musicians all listen to one another: it's a lovely way of making music (and sadly rare in the world of orchestras). © SM/Qobuz
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Violin Solos - Released October 5, 2018 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Record of the Month
A student of the last student of Ysaÿe, American violinist Hilary Hahn has played Bach's solo violin music since she was nine, and inaugurated her recording career seven years later with a recording of half the cycle of six, in 1997. That recording rightly won acclaim with its flawless technique and Apollonian lines straight out of the best of the French violin school. Uniquely, she has returned to complete the set 21 years later, and the results are marvelous. It's sometimes hard to pin down the ways in which Hahn's style has changed, but it has to do with a kind of inner relaxation, with a willingness to let the meter vary a bit and pick it up again in the longer line. The flawless tone is still there, but it's not so much an end in itself. It's not an accident that some of the graphics picture Hahn smiling, nor that her quite relevant notes to the album detail the long creative process that went into making it. Sample anywhere, but you could try the very beginning, the first movement of the Sonata for solo violin No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001, where Hahn takes just a bit of time, draws you in, and lets the rest of the movement flow from there. Decca's engineers do excellent work in a Bard College auditorium that one might not have picked as a venue for this. A superb release from one of the preeminent violinists of our time.
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Violin Concertos - Released September 28, 2018 | naïve classique

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Fabio Biondi had his work cut out for him with the complete recordings of Vivaldi's violin concertos, as the Venetian left behind more than 250 works for one, two, three or four violins. Volume VI here offers a group of six concertos written in Prague and Bohemia in the course of his stay there between 1730 and 1731. Today, musicology has become much more of a science, and it is possible to put a date on these manuscripts by means of a precise analysis of the paper used by the composer if the music doesn't speak for itself. The Antonio Vivaldi of these pieces retains the style for which he is known and loved across Europe. Fabio Biondi notes that as there are only a few hints of Bohemian music in these concertos, which are more resemblant of Vivaldi's younger work. We might conclude that while abroad, the composer was writing pieces which, while new, were destined for use by his beloved students in the Pietà. Venetian chroniclers from the time often wrote of Vivaldi's virtuoso violin playing, admiring the inventiveness that he brought to the cadenzas of his concertos (the section at the end of a movement which is left open for creative improvisation) and the fantasy that he worked into his improvisations. While we have no proof that Vivaldi was the soloist for his own works during his Bohemian trip, Fabio Biondi, a true connoisseur of Vivaldi's style, clearly aims to apply this spirit to his recordings, and nowhere more so than here. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Duets - Released September 28, 2018 | Indésens

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
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Chamber Music - Released September 21, 2018 | Ricercar

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 étoiles de Classica
The Russian violinist Evgeny Sviridov, winner of the MA Festival Bruges Competition in 2017, has chosen to devote his first recording to the sonatas of Giuseppe Tartini. As heir to the Baroque tradition of the early eighteenth century, Tartini developed technical concepts much bolder than those of his predecessors, thus preparing the violin for the language of the Classical period. His treatise served as a model for Leopold Mozart and his reputation was still very much alive in the Romantic era, which continued to propagate the famous anecdote of his dream during which the Devil suggested to him how to perform reputedly impossible trills... © Ricercar
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Duets - Released September 14, 2018 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
The violin sonatas of Johannes Brahms were the product of much self-critical reflection, and the three surviving works are from a composer mature in years. Composed around the same time as the Violin Concerto (No. 1), the Piano Trio in C Minor and the Cello Sonata No. 2 (Nos. 2 and 3), they also echo some of his songs, such as those written to poems by Klaus Groth. Into this Romantic atmosphere come new performances of the three works on Glossa, played by violinist Leila Schayegh (particularly awarded for her recordings of Bach, Caldara and Benda), teaming up here with pianist Jan Schultsz. Schayegh plays a copy of a period violin, whilst Schultsz uses an original 1879 Streicher instrument. The two players aim to recapture the performing tradition as the composer would have known it, and within which he would have intended his pieces to have been played. Schayegh and Schultsz worked with Clive Brown and Neal Peres Da Costa in their efforts to aim for “the spirit rather than the dead letter of the score” and they pay admirable notice of important interpretative questions for music of this time – and they provide an intuitive musical and emotional response to the lyricism of the first two sonatas and the darker-hued tones of the third, investing these late-nineteenth-century works. © Glossa
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Violin Concertos - Released September 10, 2018 | Channel Classics Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or - Exceptional sound - Hi-Res Audio
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Concertos - Released September 10, 2018 | Channel Classics Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica - Exceptional sound - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released September 10, 2018 | Channel Classics Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Exceptional sound - Hi-Res Audio
Given that the aim of this recording, announced in the booklet notes, is to "[demonstrate] how composers in Germany, Italy, Austria, and England responded to the challenges of writing for the violin senza basso, it's a bit odd to begin the proceedings with a work that's not for violin at all. However, the transcription for solo violin of Bach's underplayed Partita for flute in A minor, BWV 1013, by violinist Rachel Podger herself, is quite idiomatic to the violin, and Podger's performance is lively and attractive. From Bach, Podger looks outward to other solo violin works rather than back to the tradition immediately preceding Bach's unaccompanied sonatas and partitas. The works don't have anything directly to do with one another, but they are united in part by being Podger's favorites, and there are some fascinating offbeat pieces that do indeed seem to have counterparts in Bach's magisterial compendia. Consider the very nice pair of solo sonatas by Giuseppe Tartini. In the Giga movement of the first one, the violin takes its solo and is answered by itself in the role not only of harmonic accompaniment but of orchestral figure. The pieces by Nicola Matteis, who inaugurated the entire migration of Italian musicians to Britain, have a fantastic spirit, while the sonata by Pisendel, which may have preceded or followed Bach's pieces, is at least similar to them in language, although less deep. A selection from Biber's Rosary Sonatas works well as a finale. One minor flaw is that notes describe a sonata by Antonio Montanari that is not actually included; a more serious problem is overresonant church sound inconsistent with the chamber purposes of the music.
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Violin Solos - Released September 7, 2018 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet
In his turn the conductor and first violin of the Freiburger Barockorchester engraved these emblematic pages for violin. On his instrument by the Milanese lutenist Paolo Antonio Testore (1690-1767), Gottfried von der Goltz tackles without any display this corpus for solo violin. He plays them in an authentic, personal and sober (a little too reserved?) way with a constant concern to put forward their rich architecture and polyphony always in a deep understanding of the writing. © Qobuz 2018    
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Violin Concertos - Released August 24, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Chouchane Siranossian is a rising star of the baroque and classical violin, Jakob Lehmann a virtuoso violinist and orchestral director who frequently conducts Anima Eterna. Together, they embody what the Bruges orchestra and its founder, Jos van Immerseel, have decided to call the ‘Next Generation Anima Eterna’... Today they are presenting Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in its original version. “We wanted to take a look into Mendelssohn’s workshop. He struggled with his self-diagnosed ‘revision disease’ and always strove to work hard on himself and his creations” says Jakob Lehmann. Chouchane Siranossian keeps on : “It was a fascinating experience for me to discover historical research and its implementation on period instruments in collaboration with Anima Eterna Brugge. In my interpretation, I used exclusively the fingerings, bowings and other performance markings of Ferdinand David and Joseph Joachim, both of whom rehearsed the work with the composer.” This recording is rounded off with the Octet, also in its original version, which is longer and has many alterations in instrumentation, harmony and articulation... © Alpha Classics
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Duets - Released August 10, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Two young Belgian soloists—including Lorenzo Gatto, despite the Italian consonance of the name—have been gathering for several years around Beethoven, and here is their interpretation of three Beethoven sonatas: the First written even before the end of the 18th Century—1798—, followed by the very last that is the Tenth Op. 96 from 1812—created by the infamous Pierre Rode on violin, and the archduke Rudolph of Austria who, incidentally, must have been an amazing pianist—, to finish with one of the most famous ones, the Fifth called “The Spring Sonata” (a name not chosen by the composer). Despite dating “only” from 1801, this sonata is incredibly different from the First regarding its architectural maturity, its intense lyricism and its audacities of all kinds. Gatto, who won the Queen Elisabeth Competition, plays on nothing less than the Stradivarius “Joachim”, while Libeer, a chamber music enthusiast, has a field day on a big concert piano with parallel strings and of an almost orchestral sound. Their first volume, released in 2016, was more than noticed by the critics and the audience—and was a great success on Qobuz. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released July 6, 2018 | New Focus Recordings

Booklet
While the Violin Concerto from 2016 by Michael Hersch (born 1971) seems like a frightful chaos, the work soon takes a more linear and legible turn, even though its content remains tremendously violent from end to end, even in those less frenetic passages where the melodic line seems to warn of impending danger... The work was commissioned by violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, who is an ardent supporter of music less ordinary, which requires nerve and endurance. As for end stages (all lower case in the title) from 2017, it explores the "end stages" of musical discourse, an apparent allusion by the composer to the illness and deaths of loved ones which have dogged him for years. The eight movements, far from fading away, give the impression of slowly closing in on themselves. The famous Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, to which the work is dedicated, performs it here. As it is wonted to do, the ensemble plays without a conductor, which is a terrific tour de force, given a score of such complexity. But as each musician is forced to listen to the other, the concentration is extreme – and it shows. © SM/Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released June 22, 2018 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik - 5 étoiles de Classica
François Francœur perfected his talents as a violinist and composer in the France of the 18th century, down the years of a very full and long life (1698-1787). He was admitted to the Académie Royale de Musique as a violinist at the age of just 15. After several years of playing concerts in the great towns of Europe, he rejoined the The King's 24 Violins in 1730, before becoming a member of the Concert Spirituel, a rare and much-coveted honour. He was also Master of Music at the Opéra de Paris and then musical director of the same institution with his good friend François Rebel. Francœur found himself increasingly in favour at the court of Louis XV who would name him His Majesty's Master of Music in 1760 and ennobled him into the bargain. This was the era of the great rivalry between French and Italian music: Francœur didn't take one side, but accepted the influence of both into his instrumental music. The ten first violin sonatas on this record make up the whole of his First Book published in 1720: ten sonatas, an unusual number at a time when they were normally published by the dozen or half dozen. The writing fuses courtly elegance and rather earthier, joyful Italian energy, and Francœur gives the work a unique voice of its own. In this fresh, melodious music, both refined and robust, we hear tender songs, feverish dances, pastorales, but also a stunning virtuosity. Violinist Mitzi Meyerson chose not to perform these sonatas in the order of their publication, on the grounds that they weren't written to be performed back to back. Meyerson instead arranges them by key as harmoniously possible, and also sorts them by major musical influence: French, Italian and German too. She plays each line with a gentle inflection of the rhythms and emphases that reflects the known historical style of each national body of music. © SM/Qobuz
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Violin Concertos - Released June 22, 2018 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
While Max Bruch's First Concerto was recorded, re-recorded and over-recorded to the nth degree, we can't say the same of Bruch's very elegant Scottish Fantasy Enter Joshua Bell, the new artistic director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, both playing the violin and heading up an ensemble to offer us both the Concerto – which he had recorded about thirty years ago with Marriner – and the Fantasy, a discographic first for him. This Fantasy, written in 1880 after the Second Concerto, was Sarasate but first performed by Joachim. The composer weaves it together from an infinitely elegant tissue of themes, and melodic impressions of Scotland, real or imagined. Joshua Bell, of Scottish descent himself, swims like a wild salmon through the clear waters of lochs and highland torrents, while the orchestra, clearly rapt, offers him a beautiful foil. © SM/Qobuz
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Concertos - Released June 15, 2018 | CPO

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Everyone knows Mendelssohn's violin concerto, at least the one in E Minor; and his piano concertos are reasonably well-known. But what about this concerto for piano and violin? Ha! To be sure, it's a work from his youth (to say the least): the work dates from 1823, when Mendelssohn was just 14 years old, but already displaying stupefying talents. This double concerto appears to have been written for private Sunday concerts in the family home; and yes, we can hear a few classical accents from Mozart and Beethoven (the latter was still alive!), and from Weber too in the sunnier moments, but the melodic development is already typically Mendelssohnian. Here we have the original version with string orchestra, because shortly after its first performance at the Sunday sessions it was re-written with wind and timpani. As for the Violin Concerto in D Minor, it is the work of a composer who is still young, just thirteen, although this version contains the revision that he made a few years later – more compact movements, and a complete third movement, as the first draft of 1822 only sketched the third movement in outline. Here, too, one is just gobsmacked by the maturity of the writer; were it by anyone other than Mendelssohn, there would be an uproar about this overlooked genius – even if the writer were an adult – whereas, as it's Mendelssohn, what people focus on is merely the youthfulness of the work. Just like we do, in this review… © SM/Qobuz