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Con Amore (Brahms, Kreisler, Elgar) (DECCA The Originals)
Con Amore (Brahms, Kreisler, Elgar) (DECCA The Originals)
Price: 7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome reissue of a Kyung Wha Chung classic !!!, 6 July 2011
This is a most welcome reissue of violinist Kyung Wha Chung's 1987 'Con amore' recording. Put simply, this is the most satisfying collection of encores that I have had the pleasure of hearing since its inital release on LP nearly two decades ago.

The virtuosity is deceptively non-apparent in these performances due to the directness of communication from Chung and her most empathic collaborator, Phillip Moll. Chung's technical feats are completely at the service of musical expression with fire, passion, profundity, wit, charm, and scorching fervor which are manifest in her fearless attack and singing statements that soar. There is only musical honesty and a directness that reveal no hesitation or constructed affectism.

The opening Kreisler La Gitana offers such zest and flair as does the Preludium and Allegro. There is such presence yet subtlety to the wide range of emotions and sound textures that Chung and Moll create. And they move amazingly together in their rubato and dialogue with spontaneity for wonderful measure. Raging passion with Brahms and Saint Saens and hushed intimacy in Debussy's Beau soir are irresistably rewarding on listening to this collection. Perhaps the Elgar Salut d'amor is most representative of the powerfully communicative nature of this recording. Chung admits to having to "grow" with the piece for ten years before being able to play it in public. And this is most apparent in the completely personal reading she provides with such inflections and subtleties that can simply have NOT been planned, practiced, nor drilled in advance for the recording microphone.

In the late nineties, Chung recorded a second disc of violin encores for EMI entitled "Souvenirs". This album also collectively offered Chung's characteristic fire and lyricism and musical intelligence. Yet in comparison, this 'Con amore' album possesses an intensity of communication and that rare marriage of virtuosity and musical honesty at a greater and often unachievable stratosphere. An exciting and rewarding accomplishment in Kyung Wha Chung's selective discography!!!


Beethoven: Symphony No. 5
Beethoven: Symphony No. 5
Offered by samurai_media_JPN4UK
Price: 14.09

5.0 out of 5 stars Kyung Wha Chung: Brahms Violinkonzert, 20 Jan 2011
Kyung Wha Chung has never recorded the Brahms Violin Concerto previously during her distinguished career. This recording with the Wiener Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle winningly communicates an unquestionably musical and spiritual interpretation. As with the Beethoven Violin Concerto, Brahms' concerto also particularly demands technical challenges which must serve the musical expression of the work rather than as overt virtuosic displays and pyrotechnic showcases.

Chung's performance reminds the listener, yet again, that her technical feats are completely at the service of musical expression and immediate communication. Her recording conveys a wonderful intensity and absolutely perceptible sense of being "alive". The concerto is truly brought to life bar by bar. Auto-pilot playing or mere physical execution of the piece is never characteristic of Chung's warm interpretation. Cool objectivity, fiery passion, wit, and vulnerability are all elements present within Chung's singing violin.

The first movement embodies dichotomous combinations of tension, serenity, lyricism, cutting aural discord ('tortured hacking' as per the liner notes), open geniality and distant probing. Brahms' most human expressions of light and dark are very much at the forefront in the interpretive approach of Chung and Rattle. A listener perceives that Brahms' intellect, wit, sarcasm, warmth, and humility are so omnipresent in this single movement. Throughout this movement's twenty-three minutes, the breadth is wonderful with a fluidity of pacing/rubato that support the living heartbeat of this music without ever drawing attention onto itself. Chung's Joachim cadenza is simultaneously virtuosic yet personal in her allowance of the passages to unfold phrase by phrase rather than as a single utterance of rushed or programmed violin technique. The sustained hymn-like tutti immediately following the conclusion of the cadenza is most representative of the entire collaborative, chamber-music endeavor of all the performers.

The second movement astonishingly sustains sonic/spiritual serenity throughout with the beautiful legato line drawn from start to finish by Chung with the most empathic intimacy with the Vienna Philharmonic's unique and golden sound. The opening wind serenade is one of the most beautiful on-record for this piece.

Chung exponentiates the giocoso aspects of the finale and may thus seem less heavy than others. However, her agile and acrobatic bow never remains 'earth-bound' during this final movement which thus offers a complete dramatic contrast to the earlier movements. The sparkle, wit, and good humor of Brahms find voice now after the preceding thirty-two minutes of dramatic light, shade, darkness, sturm und drang. The elasticity and spring-like joy to this movement is most delightfully brought to life in the final minute and 40 seconds as Chung leads a spontaneous slight accelerando of double stops into the grand final chords.

The balance between solo violin and orchestra sounds very much like the balance one would find in a concert performance (recording venue: Musikverein, Vienna), preserving Chung and Rattle's approach of this work as a "concerto-symphony". The legendary Vienna Philharmonic's uniquely special sound is beautifully interwoven with the solo violin's cantilena line, and the dramatic tension between the grand forces of the orchestra and the solo violin is judiciously captured in this recording. The chamber-music rapport between the soloist and the orchestra is clearly evident as Rattle and Philharmonic respond with equal power, propulsion, and spontaneity, at times punctuating Chung's solo line while during others "cushioning" it beautifully. This reciprocative chemistry and musical synergy ignite this recording's communicative powers even more convincingly. An exciting and rewarding accomplishment.


Brahms: Violin Concerto / Bruch: Concerto No.1
Brahms: Violin Concerto / Bruch: Concerto No.1
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: 6.00

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Surprising Sarah: Bruch and Brahms, 7 Mar 2010
Sarah Chang's most recent release proves to be the most appealing and enjoyable for this listener. The Bruch and Brahms concertos appear here in an infrequent coupling with the soloist teamed with Dresden's Philharmonie and Kurt Masur.

The strongest point of this entire disc that jumps immediately on the first hear is the beautiful sound of the Dresden Phil: the entire sound worlds of the strings, winds, brass, and percussion are quite homogeneous in their union with an impressive breadth of sound textures and characters. The fluidity of the pacing and variance in colors and forward vs. subdued 'lighting' is absolutely wonderful. It is unknown how much of this was specifically due Masur's direction or whether the orchestra already possessed and voiced its own 'sixth sense' in the realm of concerto accompaniment. Bravi to the ensemble and Masur.

Sarah Chang's playing for me has remained impressively consistent through all the years of her career for the overall feelings of 'solidness and loudness' that are always conveyed in whichever repertoire she performs. She is remarkable for her command of execution and again, consistent delivery of incredible violin-playing. Yehudi Menuhin was certainly on-the-mark in his oft-quoted praise of her as the 'most perfect violinist'. Chang's performances on disc and in the concert-hall are close in resembling each other: she exudes an almost pre-meditated command of the piece that she plays with such a solid 'weight' that remains so firmly adherent to the ground. This is not to say Chang's playing is sluggish, yet her overall aura has always conveyed the aural sensation of fortissimo projection and a purposeful bow that usually stays 'earthbound' on the violin's strings.

This present recording, however, deviates somewhat from the above traits of Chang's identity as a violinist. The Bruch concerto is expressed more romantically than the Brahms; she performs the Brahms, especially the finale, in more of her usual mode of 'solid-weighted violinism'.

In the Bruch, she is more fluid with her emotions and pacing with rubato and a beautiful legato line that ceases to betray any bow-changes. Vibrato is more varied in its speed and width here than in other recordings where she has frequently made one feel that she is applying a single wide vibrato to all passages like a prime coat of paint. Articulation and acrobatics with the bow are clear without any doubt to what she is intending to say musically. The Bruch is perhaps the most convincing because I found myself less conscious or aware of Chang's technical execution of the piece and more in rapport with the music and its drama.

Chang's first Brahms concerto recording also offers clear musicality of her reading of this most grand of violin works. I enjoyed the first and second movements the most where Chang's 'solid' and loud persona are most facilitative of delivering the first 35 minutes of Brahms' masterpiece. Her rapport with the Dresden unfolds naturally and Masur's pacing of the tutti's prevents the entire performance from emulating the soloist's 'thickness' of sound and expressive temperament. The collaboration is clearly presenting the work as a concerto-symphony as inherent in Brahms' scoring and architecture of his concerto.

However, there are contrasting elements of light vs shade, tranquility/serenity vs sturm/drang, amiable warmth vs searing rage and 'public vs distant' moods that do not quite find voice in Chang's performance. These components can sum to deliver a 'living' performance of the concerto that should communicate senses of mystery, romance, build-up/release of tension and musical melodrama that reflect Brahms' humility and vulnerability. The finale is a beautiful execution of virtuoso bow feats but remains flat and less giocoso such that the contrast and dramatic release from the first two movements cannot be fully realized nor enjoyed.

In sum, these performances are positive testaments to add to Chang's discography. I heard her perform the Brahms in Houston ten years ago - her overall interpretation has not changed much to the present recording, however her musical expressiveness has flowered more and makes this release enjoyable.


Violin Concerto / Symphony No 7
Violin Concerto / Symphony No 7
Price: 23.25

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kyung Wha Chung: Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in Berlin, 10 Dec 2009
This latest release on Testament is most welcome as Kyung Wha Chung has not released a recording since her acclaimed Brahms Violin Concerto with the Wiener Philharmoniker and Simon Rattle from 2001 on EMI. This Tchaikovsky recording was made in 1973 during Chung's live concert with the Berlin Philharmonic and Carlo Maria Giulini.

The recording possesses the charged anticipation of attending a Kyung Wha Chung live performance with the direct passion and abandon with which she plays all music. The spontaneity and combustive tension and vibrance of Chung's solo line is beautifully and surprisingly fused with the unmistakable Berlin Philharmonic 'sound' that was such a constant of the Karajan era - sonic perfection, power, and propulsion with a depth and full 'wholeness' of sound that would evolve into a different sound-world with Abbado and Rattle.

The first movement is pure excitement as Chung shares a dialogue with the Philharmonic such that she insists on rubato and a fiery, volatile argument that is at odds with the solid, grand masonic-like character of the masculine Berlin Philharmonic. Chung ultimately 'convinces' or wins the musical argument with the orchestra to sing the concerto her way so that all the musical statements are not presented with strict in-tempo timing and chorale-like grandeur. The soloist and the orchestra therefore evolve towards each other in the musical dialogue that is allowed to beautifully unfold by the eminent Giulini.

The second movement Canzonetta is a beautiful love-song presented by the harmonious union of soloist and orchestra with long arching and singing lines that are shared and breathed in an incredible union. The melancholic and wistful statements of this movement are intimately expressed without any sense of ingenuity or 'programmed' effect. Chung's vibrato, portamento, and finger-slides are most beautiful as are the hushed choruses from the wind and string sections.

The finale is balletic and explosive in its athletic velocity, propulsive attack, bite and sense of real dialogue between orchestra and violinist. This, again, is a hallmark feature of a Kyung Wha Chung performance where she takes risks that offer the audience a privileged opportunity to hear a real and riveting performance. At times, the soloist and orchestra 'circle one another' as if in a gladiator arena whereas in other moments the protagonists fly together in synchronized athleticism and grace.

The recording is beautifully engineered despite the live concert setting such that the violin is forward but not overly so; the chamber-music dialogue is exceptionally well-captured and real. This live recording from 1973 in the Berlin Philharmonie is a gift for listeners nearly 36 years later who may now simultaneously enjoy a live concert and new recording from this much-loved violinist.


Szymanowski: Violin Concertos 1 & 2; Britten: Violin Concerto
Szymanowski: Violin Concertos 1 & 2; Britten: Violin Concerto
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 7.26

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Musical Virtousity, 10 April 2009
Frank Peter Zimmermann's move from EMI to Sony Classical has allowed listeners to follow his performances from afar. For those of us who do not live in the major musical capitals of Europe and the US, Zimmermann's ongoing but infrequent recordings are especially welcome.

I had the privilege of hearing Zimmermann perform the first Szymanowski concerto in Chicago with Boulez conducting in March 2009. I was totally unfamiliar with the concerto but was an avid fan of Zimmermann's recordings of all the standard violin repertoire from Baroque to early 20th century. As well, this was the first occasion that I was to experience hearing Zimmermann live. Thus, an exciting event on more than one level.

The performance of the Szymanowski was magically enchanting with an incredibly amazing sense of fantasy and improvisatory music-making. As is his trademark, Zimmermann performed with his supreme technical finesse and command that served to communicate an incredibly long thread of musical ideas and emotions. The chamber-music rapport between the soloist and Chicago Symphony was wonderful such that Zimmermann at times blended into the soundscape of the orchestra while at others rising above with either full singing lines or virtuosic pyrotechnics. And such elegance and beauty of sound also belied great wit and intelligence in his entire reading. The cadenza was an amazing spectacle of violin-playing that had the audience in complete silence and focus. And when Zimmermann concluded the concerto with the trill and harmonics, the audience immediately understood the wit and sparkle of this work and provided a rapturous applause.

This recording offers all of the above-mentioned traits and unique strengths that are so characteristic of Zimmermann's integrity as a true, dedicated musician. The recording balance on all three of the concerti is excellent which, again, allows for the blending and emergence of Zimmermann's sound both with and above the orchestra(s).

The Warsaw Philharmonic and Antoni Wit conducting are superb collaborators with Zimmermann on the two Szymanowski concerti. Again, there is energy and supreme virtuosity which are deceptively non-apparent as they serve to bring the works to life. Zimmmermann is masterful at varying his tone-colors, vibrato, bow speed/pressure/strokes while never losing the singing quality to all the passages. The complete control of pitch and marriage with the most perfect bow-arm is unbelievable. Such purity of violin-playing with a genuine musical purpose is the constant of Zimmermann's performance aura and identity.

The Swedish Radio Symphony with Manfred Honeck conducting is also beautifully supportive and engaging with Zimmermann in the Britten Violin Concerto. The chamber music rapport coupled with the soloist's absolute concentration and lively exchange with the orchestra, again, combine to provide the listener with a real performance that is unfolding bar-by-bar. Zimmermann converses 'in the zone' with the timpani and bassoons in several passages; the recording engineers have beautifully captured a gorgeous orchestral sound that is full, deep, rich, brilliant and real as in a concert hall.

Zimmermann has never been an autopilot virtuoso or incomplete musician who has yet to form or convince a musical purpose in the works he performs. If you have never heard these violin concerti previously, the performances will reach you such that there is no other choice but to enjoy them and marvel at the artistry of Zimmermann. And to appreciate the composer's creations. Another rewarding offering by this violinists' violinist.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 24, 2009 10:15 AM BST


Sir Georg Solti: The Maestro [DVD] [2007]
Sir Georg Solti: The Maestro [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Georg Solti
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 22.95

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensational Solti, 25 Nov 2007
These four DVDs offer a direct document of the performance persona of one of the most influential conductors of recent times. For some who did not have an opportunity to attend a live concert with Solti as conductor, these discs offer as close as a first-hand experience of seeing and hearing Solti in concert.

The first three DVDs are a spotlight on Solti's long and celebrated relationship with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. They offer the following works:

DVD 1:
ROSSINI
Overtures: Il Barbiere di Siviglia, L'Italiana in Algeri, La scala di seta, Semiramide, La gazza ladra
MENDELSSOHN
Symphony No. 3 in A Minor Op.56, `Scottish', Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op.35, Symphony No.4 in A Major, Op.90, `Italian'

DVD 2:
BRUCKNER
Symphony No. 7 in E major
Symphony No. 6 in A major

DVD 3:
WAGNER
Overtures: Der fliegende Holländer, Tannhäuser, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Tristan und Isolde - Prelude, Tristan und Isolde - Liebestöd
STRAUSS
Till Eulenspiegel, Told und Verklärung, Vier Letzte Lieder

They are live-concert performances from Orchestra Hall (Chicago) which display Solti's dynamic and unique, physical conducting style which elicits the most vibrant and 'alive' sound from the CSO. An accurate description of 'Solti's sound' that he cultivated with the CSO would be an intense sound of great precision and sheen such that the orchestra sounded loud most of the time. That is not to say that the CSO did not play softly under Solti, but rather that at even soft passages, they played with such a passionate energy and vividness that only Solti catalyzed. The colors that Solti cultivated from his orchestra were generated by an unswerving artistic attention to articulation, rhythm, and taut precision. This orchestral 'sheen with virtuosity' was slightly mellowed once Daniel Barenboim began his own era with the CSO.

The Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with the enchanting violinist Kyung Wha Chung is also a beautiful performance full of sparkle, propulsion, tension, delight, and beauty: a true performance that breathes and unfolds bar-by-bar with great musical sensitivity, insight, profundity, spontaneity, and tigerish tension such that mere physical/technical execution of the concerto is NEVER characteristic of Chung's 'living' performance. She has always been full of wonderful things to say with Mendelssohn's famous concerto.

The Bruckner symphonies were filmed live in the London Royal Albert Hall to an outstandingly full and enthusiastic audience. Solti and the CSO deliver the Bruckner works with the expected grandeur, authority, and fullness of sonority that are expected. However, in comparison to other performances, Solti's is one of, again, rhythmic vitality and rubato that infuse such an irresistable shapefulness and sense of 'flexible time' as the long, arching lines of the works are presented with such care and intensity with that warm yet vibrant 'orchestral sheen' and virtuosity characteristic of the Solti-CSO partnership.

DVD 4:
KODÁLY: Háry János - Suite
BARTÓK: Romanian Dances
WEINER: Introduction Und Scherzo ('Prinz Csongor Und Die Kobolde
BERLIOZ: Hungarian March ('La Damnation De Faust')
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No.7 in A Major

These matters of orchestral sound and the influence of Solti's strong personality on an orchestra are even more apparent on the fourth DVD which spotlights Solti's rehearsal and performance with the Wiener Philharmoniker. The rehearsal in the Musikverein is perhaps the most fascinating footage of the entire DVD in that Solti speaks to the members of the Philharmoniker of his personal experiences with the Hungarian and Roumanian composers and teachers of his youth such as Kodaly and Bartok. With these anecdotes, it is both educational and entertaining to observe how Solti molds the sumptous sound of the Philharmoniker into more of the intense, vibrant, loud-charactered and sheen-sounded aural style that is purely a reflection of Solti himself. He is not content to simply allow the players to play with a beautiful sound, which is more than considerable from the legendary Philharmoniker. The Philharmoniker under Solti voices true aural consonants and vowels within the music with such versatility which augment further dimensions to the Wiener sound of ages.

DVD Audio and Picture quality are all excellent considering some of the performances are from 25 years ago and are recorded from live concerts. A winner of a release for Solti's admirers as well as Kyung Wha Chung's fans!!! You will most definitely enjoy these.


Con Amore - Violin Encores
Con Amore - Violin Encores

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome reissue of a Kyung Wha Chung classic!, 1 Aug 2006
This is a most welcome reissue of violinist Kyung Wha Chung's 1987 'Con amore' recording. Put simply, this is the most satisfying collection of encores that I have had the pleasure of hearing since its initial release on LP nearly two decades ago.

The virtuosity is deceptively non-apparent in these performances due to the directness of communication from Chung and her most empathic collaborator, Phillip Moll. Chung's technical feats are completely at the service of musical expression with fire, passion, profundity, wit, charm, and scorching fervor which are manifest in her fearless attack and singing statements that soar. There is only musical honesty and a directness that reveal no hesitation or constructed affectism.

The opening Kreisler La Gitana offers such zest and flair as does the Preludium and Allegro. There is such presence yet subtlety to the wide range of emotions and sound textures that Chung and Moll create. And they move amazingly together in their rubato and dialogue with spontaneity for wonderful measure. Raging passion with Brahms and Saint Saens and hushed intimacy in Debussy's Beau soir are irresistably rewarding on listening to this collection. Perhaps the Elgar Salut d'amor is most representative of the powerfully communicative nature of this recording. Chung admits to having to "grow" with the piece for ten years before being able to play it in public. And this is most apparent in the completely personal reading she provides with such inflections and subtleties that can simply have NOT been planned, practiced, nor drilled in advance for the recording microphone.

In the late nineties, Chung recorded a second disc of violin encores for EMI entitled "Souvenirs". This album also collectively offered Chung's characteristic fire and lyricism and musical intelligence. Yet in comparison, this 'Con amore' album possesses an intensity of communication and that rare marriage of virtuosity and musical honesty at a greater and often unachievable stratosphere. An exciting and rewarding accomplishment in Kyung Wha Chung's selective discography!


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