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More Christmas shopping...

April 9, 2008 at 2:34 AM

once more in pursuit of the ultimate CD collection....
One of my favorite violinists is Kyung Wha Chung. Fantastic player and fantastic musician. However, even allowing for her choice to do less after establishing a stellar international career she didn’t I think really establish herself as a movie star type favorite in the way Perlman did. I recently bought her recording of the three Brahms violin sonatas with Peter Frankl and for me this recording for all its stellar qualities tended to suggest a reason to me: as a question of taste I think her sound is just a little too brittle and over excited all the time. She can play loud and soft. She has enormous power and range but there is no creamy or laid back. Thus her sound is for me, fairly well matched to the nervous impulse I associate with the d minor but sounds out of place in the g major which also includes some rather mannered bow swelling that disturbed the flow for me. What does impress me about her is her extraordinary ability to be playing loud and as the phrase requires more suddenly more happens and just when you think that must be it she finds more and so on. This is actually quite rare and I seem to recall it was san aspect of playing she has been very concerned with over the years.
Recently commented on how well I thought Ferras played the Beethoven sonatas, actually preferring them to the glorious set by Oistrakh that should be at the top of anyone’s Christmas list. O ne of my criteria for these works has always been fidelity to Beethoven’s markings which has been surprisingly lax from me of the older greats while the new generation ha perhaps swung the other way while often losing the pizzazz and color. Or so I thought until I stumbled on a recording of a violinist who more and more comes at the top of my prunery. Vengerov`s recording of the Spring is just mind blowing to me. None of this `springy` rubbish which bedevils the twee performances of young students who have this apparently simple work thrust upon them. Vengerov has the gonads (like Heifetz) to go –real fast= and that brings the whole architecture into brilliant relief. He plays with fidelity to the score but its die hard macho playing which is not listening for the faint hearted. Just fantastic. If I have one caveat it is that the last movement is actually rather fast even in this framework and doesn’t give us an elegant breather after all the preceding fireworks. A more relaxed pianist might have provided a balance. Nonetheless this is a version of an old war horse that should be studied with attention. Very special.

From Yixi Zhang
Posted on April 10, 2008 at 5:54 AM
Thank Buri! Just got Kyung Wha Chung and Henryk Szeryng’s Brahms sonatas. I like Szeryng slightly more than Chung as usual, but both are worth every cent. Recently I discovered iPod and the instant result iTune store gives me – bad for the pocket, but good for the soul:-)

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