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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Bartok, 2 Oct 2011
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enthusiast "enthusiast" (sussex, uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bartók: Violin Concerto No. 2, Rhapsodies (Audio CD)
This CD has a lot going for it! The great 2nd concerto is here coupled with two delightful Rhapsodies, works that are more than the equal of the more usual coupling of the 1st concerto (which is a youthful and un-typical piece). Pierre Boulez Bartok is, as always, rather stylish: accurate, delicately nuanced, alive. And Shaham is an extraordinary violinist. He possesses an extraordinary technique and delivers accuracy without apparent effort so that his performances are exhilarating and yet his approach is essentially a lyrical and gentle one.

Bartok's second concerto is perhaps the greatest violin concerto of the 20th century but it is not easy to bring off. It has so many moods that shift so suddenly, you hear a glimpse and then they are gone: it can loose direction or structure and just sound a mess or it can sound like hard work (instead of a wonderful miraculous life affirming work!). Well, Shaham's account is lovely and perhaps the most effortlessly refined and structured account out there. Listening to it one wonders that it ever seemed a challenging work.

There are other accounts as worthy - Menuhin's early account with Dorati (on Mercury) has long been a favourite of mine and I also greatly enjoy Kyung Wha Chung's and Solti's ability (and tendency!) to catch fire to name two. But for me that is never the point in great music. What matters is the chance to hear great voices find new and magical and deeply satisfying things to say.
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Bartók: Violin Concerto No. 2, Rhapsodies
Bartók: Violin Concerto No. 2, Rhapsodies by Gil Shaham (Audio CD - 2004)
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