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pretty good concerto, disappointing sonata
on 27 December 2013
The sound on this CD, for the live recording of the concerto, is ample and lovely. Both orchestra and soloist are well served, and the balance is good. The first movement is the strongest, where Barenboim and Vengerov create a sense of friendly rivalry as they energetically develop the thematic material. There's energy and excitement to it. Vengerov plays his own cadenza, and very nice it is. The second and third movements are more ordinary. There's plangency to Vengerov's playing in the second movement, but the orchestra seems too unyieldingly present, and one misses the raptness of, say, Sonnenberg's account with De Waart. And likewise in the final movement, for all the accomplished playing, orchestra and soloist fail to catch the wit of the ending -- it doesn't lack charm, but it's a bit ordinary.
The Brahms Sonata no.3 is a bit disappointing. The balance seems slightly off -- at least the piano sounds a bit muddy -- and the music comes at you at much the same level all the time. In the Suk/Katchen recording, the sound isn't as up-to-date, but one hears more variety, light and shade, from both pianist and violinist. I'm guessing that Vengerov and Barenboim weren't as familiar with one another in chamber music as Suk and Katchen were.