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Micke (Stockholm, Sweden)

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Dvorak - Symphony 9; Serenade for Strings
Dvorak - Symphony 9; Serenade for Strings
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £9.16

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious filler!, 27 Jan. 2011
I did some research to find a good recording of Dvorak's Serenade for strings. Several less -and more well known orchestras and conductors disappointed me repeatedly. I felt that too many interpreters don't pay the necessary loving care when performing this piece, a delightful bon-bon indeed and maybe lightweight but a very gorgeous, top-class lightweight music. Finally I found this 1975 Kempe/Munich Philharmonic version and Ahhh! -everything is so right. This is the luxury version I hoped to find. On top of that, you get the beautiful, red-blooded 1969 LSO/Ormandy account of the 9th Symphony.


Violin Concertos
Violin Concertos
Price: £7.50

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive!, 26 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Violin Concertos (Audio CD)
This was one of the first Heifetz recordings I bought (RCA 1990's cd). It gradually grew on me and became a favourite, especially the Elgar. Then, at some moment, my copy became a present for the host of some party. I almost forgot about it for some years, then remembered it -primarily for the Elgar, realised how much I missed it and bought it again on the present Naxos edition, rediscovered it and even fell crazy in love with it. Since then: an ever flaming passion. Still growing!

In recent years I've taken the time to listen to other recordings of Elgar's masterpiece including those by Sammons, Menuhin, Perlman, Zukerman, Chung, Kennedy x2, Znaider, Shaham and Zehetmair. Many of them excellent, but I was particularly impressed by Sammons, Menuhin and Zehetmair. However, in my ears no one rivals Heifetz in his truly unique glowing tone, passion, panache, elegance and mesmerizing grip on the music over huge spans. For me, this is a great recording to be put alongside Flagstad as Isolde (If you can, please hear the 1937 Beecham recording!), Edwin Fischer in Das wohltemperierte Klavier, Horowitz in Tchaikovsky's B flat minor concerto, Richter in Schubert's last sonata, Schwarzkopf as Elvira, Corelli as Manrico, Pavarotti as Turiddu or Callas as Norma. Sadly it seems to be rather little known. Many people seem to "know" which is the best version (Menuhin...Kennedy...) -without having heard Heifetz. For Elgar's violin concerto -look no further!

As for the Walton concerto, Heifetz, its dedicatee, plays it just as superbly as one would expect.

The very decent mono recordings have been taken care of with the expertise we've been spoiled with by Mark Obert-Thorn.

Don't miss this one! You might even wanna sell your previous favourite recordings.


Prokofiev: Violin Concertos, Nos. 1 & 2 / Violin Sonata, No. 2
Prokofiev: Violin Concertos, Nos. 1 & 2 / Violin Sonata, No. 2
Price: £6.37

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Daddy Smooth, 20 Jan. 2011
In my early twenties I collected a lot of David Oistrakh's recordings, circa 25 cds. My favourites included (and still do) the Brahms concerto conducted by Konwitschny, the Franck sonata with Oborin -and with Richter as well, and the Ravel trio. However, most of them are simply and undisputably great. Oistrakh's vast discography includes lots and lots of multiple recordings of many pieces. Finding a bad performance, if possible, must be extremely difficult. Choosing one DO recording of several of a piece will usually be a question of quality of recorded sound or that of his co-musicians.

I was familiar with the 1953 Kondrashin recording of Prokofiev's first concerto with David Oistrakh, very well played indeed but with quite poor sound. This 1954 recording, with the LSO conducted by Lovro von Matacic, then is a revelation, with Oistrakh in absolute top shape, in very beautiful reproduced sound. Here he reaches in my ears microscopically close to the very peak of instrumental playing. Since my later twenties I have, honestly, been more fascinated with Heifetz, Gitlis, Enescu and Thibaud. When I hear this performance I am fully reminded of DO's greatness. What undescribably gorgeous, creamy sound he produces! What cat-like, smooth phrasing, taking the first movement at a relatively slow tempo that beautifully allows the music to bloom, while there surely is more than enough of exquisite sparkling energy in the more rythmically charged passages. I hear a performance where a perfect technique is musically integrated, to a degree that is very rare even among the greatest musicians.

For me personally, this cd is worth the money for the first concerto only, due to my odd taste, in that I adore that particular piece but have some problems with both the second concerto and the second sonata. I just find the spring-like first concerto so irresistably attractive, while the two other pieces for me remain difficult. This is, of course, my problem only, very clearly so regarding the solid popularity they enjoy. (Jascha Heifetz recorded Prokofiev's second concerto but not the first. What a pity, I say!) Oistrakh's performances, however, are just superb throughout the programme on this cd. Sound quality: excellent for the period.


Bach - Cello Suites
Bach - Cello Suites
Price: £6.99

42 of 48 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Old master out of tune!, 2 Nov. 2010
This review is from: Bach - Cello Suites (Audio CD)
When this set was released in the mid 90s my cellist friend who was -and still is- a great Slava devotee of course didn't doubt one second before he went to buy it, since it's simply the greatest music played by the greatest cellist. When I asked my friend after a week or so how it was, he frowned bitterly and said "Avoid it for Heaven's sake! Try Heinrich Schiff instead."

As it happened I just heard the Rostropovich set today for the first time, aware of the strong, unanimous ovations from Amazon's customers. After hearing a few bars my friend's reaction sprang to my mind -he was right. I heard a great musician in serious decline. Ok there is 'wisdom' and 'authority'. But I sense a painful lack of cantabile, dance and flow. And what about purity of tone and intonation? I couldn't believe my ears; try the Prelude from the 4th Suite for a sample. Scandalous!

I'd love to be able to overlook these shortcomings as being merely technical and superficial, but I can't. The music doesn't have some kind of varnish under which the 'essence' or 'heart' lies. The music IS its surface or, the surface, the technique and their beauty are inseparable parts of the music itself.

For Bach's Cello Suites I would recommend Janos Starker on Mercury. Among Rostropovich's recordings I would recommend Schubert: Arpeggione Sonata, Concertos by Shostakovich (don't miss Nr. 2!) and of course Dvorak and finally Prokofiev's Symphony-Concerto (Sinfonia Concertante).

I know only one bad record by Miles Davis and it's Doo-Bop (one of his last if not the very last), one bad by Jascha Heifetz, namely Schubert's Fantasy and here we have Maestro Rostropovich's contribution to that category -based on what I've heard which indeed is from a limited not to say narrow horizon (at least in the case of Rostropovich).

If only he would have recorded the Suites some 15 years earlier!
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 30, 2016 5:33 PM BST


suites for solo cello
suites for solo cello
Offered by ScreamingCd
Price: £14.12

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Serious - Powerful - Noble, 15 Feb. 2010
This review is from: suites for solo cello (Audio CD)
What a bliss to hear Maestro Starker humbly put his million dollar technique in the service of Johann Sebastian Bach! Not only technique -other important qualities in abundance here are taste, understanding, cantabile, accuracy of rhythm and intonation, elegance, power, restraint and evenness -of tone, pulse and not least: in the effort to play each suite; each movement equally good. (Technique of course includes control of intonation, pulse, rhythm and tone.)

This is my reference version of Bach's suites for solo cello. It is a great mystery to me why this Starker recording isn't generally held ahead of all the famous versions. When I think of the bestselling famous versions by Rostropovich, Casals (Sorry! While tremendously likable with tons of unique musicality and warmth, Casals is hopelessly left behind by his more recent 'competitors' in terms of technique. I imagine he would easily have been able to adjust to today's level of technical polish -but he never had to.), Tortelier et al, I think of camel-like senile old men with riesenschnauzer eyebrows -and lots of wisdom too. Starker's supreme technique and elegance don't for one single note exclude depth or wisdom.

Please hear this recording -you won't regret it.


Paganini: 24 Capricci for solo violin
Paganini: 24 Capricci for solo violin
Price: £13.44

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sensational achievment!, 17 Jan. 2010
This is just fantastic! My attitude towards Thomas Zehetmair has been a sceptical one -up till now. His solo Bach recording is for me just unlistenable. The worst I've heard! An utterly repulsive eccentricity. Lots and lots of incomprehensive curtseying and stomping 'start & stop' phrasing going on. ""Doing musical things""... I imagine he was young and passionate and listened too much to Gidon Kremer (Well, who didn't? I did in the nineties anyway...). Zehetmair's cd with Berg, Janacek and Hartmann is a good one. I haven't listened to it for several years but I will soon. (I did today. It is good but in Berg he doesn't give Mutter a match, or if you like'em old, Krasner, Kogan or Gitlis.) Zehetmair Quartet in their price-winning Robert Schumann disc is fantastic.

Here we have a wonderfully fresh, technically astonishing, musically daring, loving, seriously prepared interpretation of Paganini's 24 Capricci. Zehetmair goes further -much further, than anyone I've heard in this repertiore in adding virtuosic embellishments, typically in retake sections. All done with wonderful imagination and taste -in a truly Paganiniesque spirit. A very close miking captures Zehetmair's exquisite pp rat-rapid staccati in various Capricci as well as the thrilling (& trilling) ppp morendo ending in Nr.6. The latter is also where TZ manages best in cantabile. If I have any complaints whatsoever about this disc it is where cantabile is called for -in Nr. 11 in C-major and Nr. 21 in A-major. Here he doesn't have the right style. Ugly wide vibrato. Little interest in shaping a line beautifully. In my ears it's like when Sting sings Don Giovanni...

Those are minor flaws that cannot shadow the greatness of this incredibly impressive and refreshing issue.


Paganini: 24 Caprices for Violin Solo
Paganini: 24 Caprices for Violin Solo
Price: £22.17

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For Gitlis enthusiasts only, 13 Jan. 2010
I adore Ivry Gitlis very much. I count this highly eccentric violinist among Heifetz, Menuhin, Thibaud and Oistrakh at the very top. It was with extremely high expectations I first listened to this disc.

For the first time I discovered that Mr. Gitlis is human after all, something one can seriously doubt when hearing his classic 1950's recordings of Bartok, Berg, Stravinsky and others. This is a discovery I rather wouldn't have made. At his best, Gitlis was just mind blowing, a wizard, ein Übermensch. He posessed a technique that seemed without limit.

In the cd booklet Gitlis tells us about the circumstances under which the Capricci were recorded, back in 1976. More or less in panic he would practise till 3 or 4 every morning, on the particular Capriccio to be recorded the same day. Only a few of them -Nr 13, 20, 24 etc, had been part of his more regular repertory, he tells us. Those three mentioned also indeed sound better than most on this cd. The rest is not bad, but definitely far from Gitlis's own Olympian standards of the previous two decades. I don't hear him playing as if tomorrow depended upon it!!!

This recording is artistically and technically highly accomplished, but absolutely not superhuman. Forget about the technical shortcomings adding 'personality', 'flavour' or whatever! It's just the opposite way. The perfection missing here (which indeed can be found earlier in I.G.'s discography) is just like the perfection of nature. Floating beer-bottles don't add to the beauty of a coral reef, I say.

The sound and interpretation isn't entirely different from that on Ricci's recording on Decca, which still remains my favourite version of the 24 Capricci (although far from perfect). Thomas Zehetmair has made a fabulous recent (2009) recording -recommended! Please avoid Michael Rabin. While technically superb -possibly the closest to perfection version available, he has a musical stiffness; an academical dryness that I find unbearable.

To experience Ivry Gitlis's greatness to the fullest I recommend you to hear Bartok: Second Concerto and Solo Sonata on VOX, the very rare Berg Concerto and Chamber Concerto, also VOX (September 1st, 2010 EDIT: I saw today that Brilliant Classics have released 3 cds with concertos by Bartok, Berg, Hindemith, Stravinsky, Bruch and some more. What a smash hit bargain! With a couple of clicks and very little money you get access to this until now very exclusive area of connaisseur's recordings. Don't hesitate, just grab it!) and finally Paganini: Second Concerto (with La Campanella) on Philips. (Please check also La Campanella on YouTube!) When I listen to these recordings I imagine how his Paganini Capricci might have sounded: out of this world.


Piano Sonatas Nos. 2, 6 And 9 (Richter)
Piano Sonatas Nos. 2, 6 And 9 (Richter)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't worry about the sound quality!, 21 Oct. 2009
I recieved my copy the other week. I can only agree with other reviewers in their praise for Richter's performances on this cd, they are simply superlative. One thing that soon struck me was that the sound quality wasn't so horrific as I expected after having read other reviews on Amazon. I have certainly heard a lot worse. However, for me the only possible attitude in this topic is that sound quality always is of subdued importance in relation to quality of music making.

In a choice between drinking Krug in paper mugs on one hand -and Lanson Black label or MoŽt & Chandon Imperial brut in exquisite crystal glasses on the other, we shouldn't hesitate for a second, should we? (Krug is a very great champagne and the other two are mediocre bestsellers.) Thinking about it, I'd say that the sound on this cd is not so much like paper mugs as like the robust Duralex milk glasses in the school dining-hall.


Bach: Cello Suites. Rostropovich [Boxed set]
Bach: Cello Suites. Rostropovich [Boxed set]
Price: £35.83

24 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Old master out of tune!, 15 Sept. 2009
When this set was released in the mid 90s my cellist friend who was -and still is- a great Slava devotee of course didn't doubt one second before he went to buy it, since it's simply the greatest music played by the greatest cellist. When I asked my friend after a week or so how it was, he frowned bitterly and said "Avoid it for Heaven's sake! Try Heinrich Schiff instead."

As it happened I just heard the Rostropovich set today for the first time, aware of the strong, unanimous ovations from Amazon's customers. After hearing a few bars my friend's reaction sprang to my mind -he was right. I heard a great musician in serious decline. Ok there is 'wisdom' and 'authority'. But I sense a painful lack of cantabile, dance and flow. And what about purity of tone and intonation? I couldn't believe my ears; try the Prelude from the 4th Suite for a sample. Scandalous!

I'd love to be able to overlook these shortcomings as being merely technical and superficial, but I can't. The music doesn't have some kind of varnish under which the 'essence' or 'heart' lies. The music IS its surface or, the surface, the technique and their beauty are inseparable parts of the music itself.

For Bach's Cello Suites I would recommend Janos Starker on Mercury. Among Rostropovich's recordings I would recommend Schubert: Arpeggione Sonata, Concertos by Shostakovich (don't miss Nr. 2!) and of course Dvorak and finally Prokofiev's Symphony-Concerto (Sinfonia Concertante).

I know only one bad record by Miles Davis and it's Doo-Bop (one of his last if not the very last), one bad by Jascha Heifetz, namely Schubert's Fantasy and here we have Maestro Rostropovich's contribution to that category -based on what I've heard which indeed is from a limited not to say narrow horizon (at least in the case of Rostropovich).

If only he would have recorded the Suites some 15 years earlier!
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 27, 2012 4:15 PM GMT


Mahler - Symphony No.7
Mahler - Symphony No.7

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure greatness!, 11 Dec. 2008
This review is from: Mahler - Symphony No.7 (Audio CD)
I'm not capable of verbal eloquence, nor am I a qualified Mahler specialist. Nonetheless I fully trust my musical ear, and it says we have a great performance here (and a very good recording). I find myself irresistably drawn into something of incredible power. The Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter hailed this as a definitive Mahler 7th when it was released a few years ago. While having heard only Abbado's two, indeed very fine DG recordings among others available I'm not in a position to make comparison. However the NPO and Jascha Horenstein convincingly create an illusion of the impossible, namely an unsurpassable performance. I would be very happy if this review could help someone to find this relatively unknown jewel. Five stars no doubt!


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