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Beethoven - The Sonata Legacy
Beethoven - The Sonata Legacy
Offered by MEGA Media FBA
Price: 21.70

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An astonishing bargain!, 21 Dec 2013
I can't get over how good this is! Buchbinder's Beethoven is distinctive and authoritative. He plays with feeling and is frequently very exciting. His tendency to shape the line rather than smooth it out may disturb some but his phrasing inevitably makes sense and seems to facilitate great expressiveness. I can listen to any sonata in this set and be instantly hooked - this is compelling music making - and Buchbinder seems to be a worthwhile guide to the early and the middle as well as the late sonatas. This is Beethoven that can stand alongside the best - and that is really saying something - and I greatly value this set and dip into it often even though I have other great and highly esteemed sets and lots of separate performances from the greats. It would also make an excellent and more than reliable only set. The performances are live but the sound is excellent throughout - vivid, warm and robust. The download in particular is an extraordinary bargain at (currently) less than 15 and even the 30 being asked for the CDs is a steal.


Khachaturian, Sibelius: Violin Concertos
Khachaturian, Sibelius: Violin Concertos
Price: 14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great playing, 21 Dec 2013
Wow - Sergey Khachatryan is quite a violinist and if I don't quite warm to this CD as much as others here have done it is not because I don't get how special he is. It is more about my not especially liking the Khachaturian piece. It is not something I will listen to.

And the Sibelius? I confess to loving the Sibelius Violin Concerto a lot. I have a lot of recordings of it. Accounts with violin playing that is as characterful as this, that conjures up out of nowhere such impressive moods, are very rare. But I have something of a prejudice in this work. I do not really see it as a typical late Romantic showpiece. It is not that I think Khachatryan does see it that way - he probes and explores in a most interesting and intelligent way - but that for me the piece is an early example of elemental orchestral music from one of the great masters of the genre. For me Krivine fails to supply an adequate account of the orchestral part. He isn't exactly bad but so many others are more idiomatic and more thrilling. Without this the piece tends to fall apart especially in the all important first movement. This movement is discursive and, without scrupulous care to the pacing of it, can drag or can just seem like a virtuoso display piece.

It is more than that. I know of many accounts that work well for me. Hahn (with Salonen), Kuusisto (with Segerstam) and Accardo (with Davis) are all in their very different ways true successes. All have noted Sibelius conductors. As for Khachatryan, his Shostakovich CD is out of this world!


Brahms Berg Violin Concertos
Brahms Berg Violin Concertos
Offered by Edealcity
Price: 10.27

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Served cold?, 15 Dec 2013
Berg's Violin Concerto is increasingly a work that an aspiring violinist will be expected to record. Luckily it is also a work that repays a wide variety of approaches - a hallmark of its greatness - and the last few years have given us many marvellous recordings of the work. Despite some lovely playing, I don't think Capucon's is one of them. His is an account that seems to lack a clear focus, a character if you will, and is therefore rather dull and somehow rather unpleasant too. There is a coldness here that makes the performance an uncomfortable one. Maybe that is the point but if so I would rather learn about pain without actually experiencing it! The powerful closing pages of this account - seemingly a product of Harding's imagination and the VPO's lovely strings - are insufficient to rescue it. If you want lush and passionate neo-romanticism and wild white hot playing then get Faust's recording with Abbado. If you want something a little more rigorous in its modernism then you could do a lot worse than Daniel Hope. Or go further back in time and you will find quite a few other recordings of this work that seem far more worthwhile than Capucon's (Suk's big Romantic recording, Zehetmair's restrained classical one, Mutter ...).

The Brahms fares better but is hardly special. There is some very beautiful playing throughout. But these are just moments and, try as I might, I cannot hear them contributing to a coherent whole. Nor are all the moments exciting. There are places where this performance just refuses to catch fire, where it seems just too solid. Is someone going to claim that this is Brahms deconstructed for the 21st Century? No - the performance tells us little new about this much recorded work and its main unique selling point seems to be its coldness. It is in the coldness of Capucon's playing that we come closest to a sense of there being a distinctive character to this account but it is not an attractive character, I fear. I am all for classicism in Brahms - his music responds well to some classical discipline - but coldness is death to Brahms's music!

Among the recordings of the last thirty years, you are better off with Shaham (with Abbado) or with Kremer (with Harnoncourt or Karajan or Bernstein) or with Faust (with Harding this time with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra) - three very different approaches, all telling us so much more than Capucon does about this concerto and all so much more imaginative, moving and uplifting. But with this concerto don't forget the greats of history, either - Milstein, Heifetz and Oistrakh have all recorded astonishing accounts of this music. Oistrakh alone has recorded at least three accounts - some love his version with Klemperer the most but I may love his account with Szell - with its larger than life violin playing that never the less works brilliantly - the most.

It is clear that I have been greatly disappointed by my purchase of this Capucon disc. I tried (again and again) but found myself actively disliking it as I persevered. It is beautifully played - perhaps it is like a museum of beautiful playing - and well recorded but that is just not enough.


Britten: War Requiem; Sinfonia da Requiem; Ballad of Heroes [Hybrid SACD]
Britten: War Requiem; Sinfonia da Requiem; Ballad of Heroes [Hybrid SACD]
Price: 27.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive, 15 Dec 2013
This is a highly praised and award winning (for recording quality) recording of Britten's War Requiem coupled with other pieces. For much of the time I have owned this record I found Hickox's War Requiem very impressive but somehow just a little too careful and, at the same time, slightly exaggerated. Somehow it didn't seem to come to life in the way that Britten's own recording does. But I think I was doing it an injustice. Hickox and his team build the piece over its span into an incredibly powerful and moving experience. You have to give it your attention for a while before it draws you in but it does draw you in! It is a performance that is able to fully capitalise on it's demonstration sound; a performance that launches a set of very characterful and moving accounts of the Owen songs - settings that are interspersed within a setting of the Latin mass. Britten's own account is indispensable but this also is not to be missed. There have been many recordings of the Requiem since this but few of them come close to the achievement here. Hickox also gives an effective account of the Sinfonia da Requiem, an earlier orchestral piece - but again does not displace the composer's own account.


Mendelssohn / Shostakovich: Violin Concertos
Mendelssohn / Shostakovich: Violin Concertos
Price: 7.27

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine disc, 12 Dec 2013
A strange coupling but with two lovely and fresh performances. Hahn always seems to play with a clear view of where she is going. It is as if she gets it fixed in her sights and advances upon it single mindedly - and with hypnotic effect. Her performances tend to be very well paced - she is never indulgent - and very well played. The downside of this is that her playing can seem to remain earthbound and she rarely really excites or surprises us.

I don't know why so many reviewers here dislike her Mendelssohn. It is a beautifully proportioned and very well paced account that is one of my favourites for this piece. I quite simply do not hear it as driven or rushed. It is true that it lacks, say, the heady magic that a Heifetz can bring to the piece but it has plenty of charm and poetry. The sparkling last movement is a particular success.

Her Shostakovich also manages poetry without losing power or intensity. Her mesmeric, brooding first movement is a noted success, as is the Pasacaglia. Other movements are effectively and efficiently played and all in all this is a notably successful account even if it is not an extraordinary one.

In both pieces the Oslo PO play well and both Hugh Wolf in the Mendelssohn and Marek Janowski in the Shostakovich are sympathetic and wholehearted partners. The recorded sound is excellent.


Brahms / Stravinsky: Violin Concertos
Brahms / Stravinsky: Violin Concertos
Price: 7.24

4.0 out of 5 stars Good performances, 8 Dec 2013
These are good accounts of two great, but very different, violin concertos. I can't fault the Brahms but it is merely good! It is a solid account that is warm and well paced. But for me it is certainly not as distinguished as the best accounts of this much recorded work. Try Oistrakh with Szell, Milstein, Kremer, Faust ... all of these, in their own very different ways, have something new and wonderful to tell us about this greatest of concertos. The Stravinsky is better. It is a spritely and winning account that leans more to the neoclassical side of the work's nature than the modernist. Marriner provides strong support in both but is more obviously attuned to Stravinsky than Brahms.


Britten: Serenade for tenor horn and strings; Finzi: Dies Natalis
Britten: Serenade for tenor horn and strings; Finzi: Dies Natalis
Price: 15.45

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Britten, 5 Dec 2013
This is an excellent record with performances of two key Britten song cycles that really do tell us something new about the works. Padmore's voice has power as well as sensitivity and he is an extremely imaginative artist. This account of the famous and much recorded Serenade is wonderful: compelling music making! Stephen Bell's horn is excellent and the Britten Sinfonia play wonderfully. Each song is strongly characterised and memorable. With excellent recording quality this could make it a preferred choice - especially for those who have yet to get the powerful flavours of Peter Pears' singing. The Nocturne is even more striking and benefits from really stupendous playing of the obligato wind parts. Padmore's account is very different from the recordings that Pears made - he take far more risks and achieves some delicate and magical things. Finzi's Dies Natalis is new to me. I know it is a much recorded and popular work and this seems a lovely performance but I don't yet feel able to review this performance of it.


Britten: Les Illuminations; Bridge Variations; Serenade for tenor, horn & string orchestra
Britten: Les Illuminations; Bridge Variations; Serenade for tenor, horn & string orchestra
Price: 14.35

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, 4 Dec 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is an enjoyable disc. I've always loved Gilchrist's opalescent voice and he delivers Britten's great Serenade attractively so that one enjoys the freshness of his conception and the aptness of his phrasing. And only occasionally does one miss the greater power and imagination in the wonderful accounts of, say, Peter Pears or Mark Padmore. The horn playing of de Waal is proficient but it lacks the power, intensity and compelling weirdness of Barry Tuckwell (in the later Britten/Pears version) or the finesse of Brain (in the earlier one). He is perhaps one of the least preferable horn players among recorded versions. Stephen Bell for Padmore is far more idiomatic as are Frank Lloyd and Michael Thompson in other recordings.

I enjoyed Hannigan's singing here less. Her voice can sometimes seems too thin and underpowered - as in, say, Fanfare and in Villes - although Antique is beautifully done as is Being Beauteous. But others - including Pears, again - have made more of these songs and I will be returning to Karina Gauvin's wonderful account when I want to hear a soprano in this set. The Bridge Variations are well done and in all the playing of the Amsterdam Sinfonietta is strikingly good. They have never sounded better and they emerge as the real stars of this disc. So, recommended: the two great song cycles have definitely received a good few better accounts than these but there is some stimulating music making here and with music of this quality you might want to own a few different accounts.


SIBELIUS & TCHAIKOVSKY/VLN CNCS/SHA'M GH
SIBELIUS & TCHAIKOVSKY/VLN CNCS/SHA'M GH
Price: 14.99

3.0 out of 5 stars The gentle virtuoso, 25 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Here a great violinist plays the Sibelius as a showpiece, albeit lyrically. He can be occasionally little indulgent and it is all more about his beautiful playing than it is about Sibelius but there is perhaps just enough Sibelius to make it work. The recording spotlights Shaham so that you can hear his breathing but the solid if rather unidiomatic support from Sinopoli is never obscured. It is an enjoyable enough account that works on its own terms and it can be recommended. I'm less sure about the Tchaikovsky. Virtuoso display is what this concerto is about. Shaham's playing is lovely - what a full but sweet tone! - but the reading fails to engage me throughout. Very few accounts do, though, so perhaps I am a poor judge. But give me Repin in this work any day.


Schoenberg: Violin Concerto / Sibelius: Violin Concerto op.47
Schoenberg: Violin Concerto / Sibelius: Violin Concerto op.47
Price: 7.54

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent accounts, 25 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There are broadly two approaches to the Sibelius Violin Concerto. It can be approached as a "virtuoso with a big ego" showpiece or as a fine early example of music by one of the 20th Century's greatest composers of orchestral music. Hahn's Sibelius is strong and powerful and unashamedly of the latter school. There is no flashy playing here and both Hahn and Salonen are natural Sibelians. Alright, this is not an account that gives us mystery or subtle nuance but it is an account that is powerful and, importantly, is perfectly paced. It has that sense of inevitability that is a hallmark in great accounts of this work, It is an account that earns a place among the more recommended versions of this much recorded work.

The Schoenberg is more of a rarity. It has often seemed a rather spiky and difficult work. Hahn softens its edges and makes it sing in places. But she doesn't dumb it down and the piece is still not an easy one. But it is approachable enough and repays repeated listening.

This is a fine disc.


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