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5.0 out of 5 stars A clear advance over the previous recordings with Solti on Decca, 17 Nov 2013
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I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bartók: Violin Concerto No.2, Rhapsodies Nos.1 & 2 (Audio CD)
These recordings, very well made in 1990-2, offer a much more realistic sound-stage with greater tonal range throughout than her earlier recording with Solti on Decca. Another great advantage of this newer recording is the less prominent balance of the violin. These two factors make the disc a far more comfortable listening experience than before, especially bearing in mind the often spiky and aggressive textures encountered to balance the passages of an intense lyrical nature.

Kyung Wha Chung, while still providing a performance of formidable technical skill, has developed a less intense and warmer approach to the work in the intervening years. This difference may well be to do with the change of conductor. Solti's way was always high pressured but Rattle is able to bring out the less driven aspects of the score to telling effect. The recording that EMI has provided underlines this more lyrical approach. On this disc one is more aware of the folk and dance forms which underpin much of the music. The variation form of the second movement brings playing of exquisite sensitivity as well as precision in the faster double stopped sections.

The same characteristics are also abundantly obvious in the coupling, the two Rhapsodies. Once more the emphasis is more on the lyrical and folksy elements with a gentler awareness of the underlying dance structures. (Both are based on the slow/fast two part verbunkos dance form).

All of this music could be described as rather a demanding listening experience as much of it is uncompromising in its specific language which will not be natural to many listeners. The concerto though, has obvious claims to be considered as one of the great concertos of it's century and is well worth persevering with. This disc makes this a more palatable option than many.

In conclusion, I would suggest that this disc, now apparently discontinued, is well worth seeking out for its particularly persuasive characteristics.
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Bartók: Violin Concerto No.2, Rhapsodies Nos.1 & 2
Bartók: Violin Concerto No.2, Rhapsodies Nos.1 & 2 by Kyung-Wha Chung (Audio CD - 1994)
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