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Berg / Beethoven: Violin Concertos CD

16 customer reviews

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ISABELLE FAUST

"Her sound has passion, grit and electricity but also a disarming warmth and sweetness that can unveil the musics hidden strains of lyricism ..." - New York Times

Isabelle Faust adopts a perspective on music in which ever-new experiences and discoveries are the principal focus. Having founded a string quartet when just eleven, her early chamber music ... Read more in Amazon's Isabelle Faust Store

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Berg / Beethoven: Violin Concertos + J.S. Bach: Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin - Isabelle Faust + Beethoven: Complete Violin Sonatas
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Product details

  • Performer: Isabelle Faust
  • Orchestra: Orchestra Mozart
  • Conductor: Claudio Abbado
  • Composer: Ludwig Van Beethoven, Alban Berg
  • Audio CD (6 Feb. 2012)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Harmonia Mundi
  • ASIN: B0062QFZ10
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 44,199 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Violin Concerto "To the Memory of an Angel": I. Andante - Allegretto
2. Violin Concerto "To the Memory of an Angel":II. Allegro - Adagio
3. Violin Concerto in D major: I. Allegro ma non trop
4. Violin Concerto in D major: II. Larghetto
5. Violin Concerto in D major: III. Rondo allegro

Product Description

BBC Review

Written more than a century apart, the Berg and Beethoven violin concertos are not often considered a natural pairing – but that is exactly how they come across on this new album. These fresh-sounding performances by violinist Isabelle Faust, under the peerless guidance of Claudio Abbado and his specially assembled Orchestra Mozart, make a compelling case for matching the 1930s angst-ridden, serial-inflected Berg with Beethoven's optimistic first flush of early 18th century romanticism.

The album begins with Berg, the dark intensity of its opening enhanced by the atmospherically reverberant acoustic of the Manzoni Auditorium in Bologna where the recordings were made. The shadowy soundworld is deeply evocative, yet the transitory wind and brass solos flit into the light with absolute clarity. Faust enters with sinewy silkiness, caressing the solo line with a tangible sense of longing. She combines a supremely beautiful tone with a sense of purpose throughout, and blends homogeneously with the vast – though sparingly employed – orchestral forces.

Berg wrote the concerto in an ultimately futile attempt to overcome his trauma at the death of 18-year-old Manon Gropius. Though tragic, Abbado and Faust offer an agile view of the work painted in subtle light and shade. The macabre waltz has a mesmeric buoyancy; with Abbado's expert woodwind balancing, the cathartic Bach chorale sounds as if it really is being played on an organ. The whole experience is extraordinarily moving.

If you play the album continuously, the warmth of Beethoven's opening bars emerges miraculously from Berg's valedictory bleakness. Abbado's Beethovenian credentials are second to none. He captures the first movement's epic grandeur, while ensuring a sense of flow with a relatively brisk tempo and nimble articulation. But whereas the generous acoustic bloom is an asset to the Berg, here it often blurs Abbado's carefully planned detail. Some of the orchestral tuttis lack the last ounce of urgency and excitement, but that is not a problem in the joyously gambolling finale, which has an especially thrilling coda.

Faust's sweet tone is consistently delightful, and she imparts due weight to the music with a light touch and comparatively sparing vibrato. Her invigorating performance offers an abundance of cogent new insights into one of the most well-loved concertos in the repertoire.

--Graham Rogers

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Review

Coupling arguably the two greatest violin concertos of the 19th and 20th centuries might seem too much of a good thing, but in these outstandingly played and conducted versions, the pairing seems quite logical, even illuminating...[Faust's] collaboration with Abbado is inspired. Indeed, both find more beauty in this challenging score than most interpreters on disc...A glorious disc. --Hugh Canning, CD OF THE WEEK, Sunday Times, 26 February 2012

VIOLINIST Isabelle Faust has matured to the point where we should now regard her as one of the great artists of our time. You can chart her progress through her recordings of Bartok, Bach and Beethoven. Then last year, with Daniel Harding and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, she reached new heights of sophistication and refinement with one of the most beautiful recordings of Brahms's Violin Concerto I have heard. And now, with her new recording of the Violin Concertos by Berg and Beethoven, she advances again, this time with Claudio Abbado and his creamy Orchestra Mozart. The emotional depths Faust uncovers in the Berg are utterly moving and profound, with a strange kind of serenity in the "Bach Chorale" section, in parallel with the poignancy. The Beethoven, an astounding performance from all the forces, is quite simply life-affirming, with a breathtaking cadenza, freely adapted from Beethoven's own cadenza written for a reduced transcription of the concerto. Amazing. --Michael Tumelty, Sunday Herald, 26 February 2012

There s something extra- special about the way Isabelle Faust and Claudio Abbado bring a sense of tentative wonder and discovery to the opening of the Berg Violin Concerto. [An] illuminating performance. --MICHAEL DERVAN, Irish Times, 24 February 2012

VIOLINIST Isabelle Faust has matured to the point where we should now regard her as one of the great artists of our time. You can chart her progress through her recordings of Bartok, Bach and Beethoven. Then last year, with Daniel Harding and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, she reached new heights of sophistication and refinement with one of the most beautiful recordings of Brahms's Violin Concerto I have heard. And now, with her new recording of the Violin Concertos by Berg and Beethoven, she advances again, this time with Claudio Abbado and his creamy Orchestra Mozart. The emotional depths Faust uncovers in the Berg are utterly moving and profound, with a strange kind of serenity in the "Bach Chorale" section, in parallel with the poignancy. The Beethoven, an astounding performance from all the forces, is quite simply life-affirming, with a breathtaking cadenza, freely adapted from Beethoven's own cadenza written for a reduced transcription of the concerto. Amazing. --Michael Tumelty, Sunday Herald, 26 February 2012

There s something extra- special about the way Isabelle Faust and Claudio Abbado bring a sense of tentative wonder and discovery to the opening of the Berg Violin Concerto. [An] illuminating performance. --MICHAEL DERVAN, Irish Times, 24 February 2012

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Entartete Musik on 14 Feb. 2012
Format: Audio CD
Pairing concertos can be a great challenge. But Isabelle Faust has really thrown down the gauntlet by attempting both the Berg and Beethoven Violin Concertos within one recording. These are two supreme masterpieces: the former an aching confession; the latter a spry riot of style and symphonism. With Claudio Abbado as an idiomatic though never dogmatic presence on the disc, Faust does the impossible. She plunges the depths of the Berg, while totally commanding the heights of the Beethoven.

The Beethoven has, thankfully, been placed second on this recording (though is reviewed first). There is little ultimately to link these two works, though their sheer emotional variance gives rich yin and yang. In the Beethoven, Faust is elegant, punchy and vital. Her bow flies off the strings in the Rondo. Abbado and the Orchestra Mozart oblige with equally animated responses in this Classical cat and mouse. Although touched by a historically informed hand, this is nonetheless a romantic interpretation and the first movement delivers bold symphonic grandeur. Playing with heft and delicacy in equal measure, Faust is a prime contendor for this work.

Before such thrilling rhetoric, however, Berg offers the shock of emotional honesty. Hallucinatory, introverted, calm, Abbado unfolds its painful narrative through a slow but certain bloom. He avoids Beethovenian analysis while drawing individual lines with Mahlerian clarity. Faust is placed within the orchestra, another voice in the aching threnody. Where in the Beethoven, Faust's velvet-clad iron fist gave bounce, here it speaks of unedited emotion. The appearance of the Bach chorale at the end of the concerto slow pulls us out of our grief-stricken reverie, preparing us for the untrammelled joy of the Beethoven.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Sillitoe on 26 Feb. 2013
Format: Audio CD
Many might see the coupling of the finest violin concerto of the classical period with that of the modern period as somewhat strange, but as the notes say, this coupling is a "dialogue", and for me it is a dialogue that works! On the one hand we have Beethoven, who in his concerto finally realises the potential of the violin as a solo instrument. Whilst on the other hand, Berg takes the use of the violin further as he gives it a voice as he has it portray the soul of "an Angel", the memory of the 18 year old daughter of Alma Mahler and Walter Gropius who had died a few months earlier.
Isabelle Faust has long been a favourite of mine; ever since she burst onto the scene with her recordings of the music of Bartók she has shown a wonderful technique along with a beautiful ability to phrase the music in order to show every emotion, and this recording is no different! Her ability to portray the anguish of loss that Berg felt about the death of Manon, and which he poured into the concerto, is tangible. While the joy of life which jumps off the page of Beethoven's concerto is there for all to hear. Faust's credentials as a Beethoven performer are not in question, her recordings of the complete sonatas with Alexander Melnikov are truly beautiful, while many held her earlier recording of the violin concerto (2007) to be the finest modern recording, it even became Radio 3's `Building a Library' choice. For me this earlier recording, with the Prague Philharmonia and Jiøí Bĕlohlávek, has been surpassed by this new recording, and not just in Faust's playing, but also in the orchestral playing which is tighter and more expressive under Abbado.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. G. Saxby on 15 Nov. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Beethoven and Berg may seem an odd coupling, but with these interpretations they seem somehow to be natural partners. The Beethoven feels as fresh as if it had just been written, and the Berg is utterly convincing. No two performances of Berg's concerto ever sound the same, even though Berg was meticulous in pointing the balance of the instruments (even using an alto sax to fill out the weaker part of the orchestral register). There are some interpretations that simply play the notes precisely as directed, as if the composer's strict construction made it into some sort of musical crossword puzzle. That certainly doesn't happen here. Without straying from Berg's marked dynamic instructions the performers and soloist still make the music a profound mixture of anger and regret. It had me weeping towards the end.
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By Stanley Crowe TOP 500 REVIEWER on 30 July 2014
Format: Audio CD
This recording has been received with the kind of awe that is reserved for Abbado as he struggled through the last part of his life under the shadow of death, but I think the praise is warranted -- not because of "depth" or any special kind of elegiac expressiveness, but because these are lucid, beautifully recorded performances. Santa Fe Listener thinks the violin too prominent in the aural mix, but, listening on my Bose headphones I didn't feel that, though I admit I'm not familiar with many recordings of the Berg concerto. I was struck here by the opening of the second movement -- after a first that seemed to me suggestive of the life and beauty of the young girl whose death occasioned the piece -- where grief seems to break out, only to be brought back within the realm of order and beauty by the end of the movement. Much of the music lies in the middle and lower range of the violin, and Faust plays with great feeling and beauty of tone.

The Beethoven is as good a performance as I've heard from a violinist in the digital era. Nothing fancy or unusual -- except maybe the marvelous first movement cadenza -- but Abbado's control of the dynamics and tempo adjustments seem right and natural, and Faust enters into the conversation with the orchestra with a sense of playfulness and humor in the outer movements. The slow movement is wonderfully rapt, with the delicacy of Faust's playing almost miraculous at times -- as if she's breathing on the strings rather than playing with the bow. So all in all, a lovely recording of two great concertos.
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