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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Impressive Début Disc, 26 July 2006
By 
J Scott Morrison (Middlebury VT, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Glazunov; Khachaturian; Prokofiev - Violin Concertos (Audio CD)
Although this is not the young Julia Fischer's first recording, it is the first she has done in SACD format on the PentaTone label with whom she has signed as an exclusive artist. The CD came out in late 2004, if I'm not mistaken, and she has since released the Bach Partitas and Sonatas, and most recently a disc of Mozart Violin Concerti. I gave a rave to the latter here at Amazon. I had not heard this début disc until recently and was, I will admit, a little concerned that she might be too 'classical' a violinist to make the most of these mostly extrovert Russian concerti. I was wrong to have any hesitation; she plays them with verve, wit, style and plenty of extroversion where needed. But she also brings to them an inwardness -- particularly in the Prokofiev First, which certainly has a veil of mystery about it -- that makes them seem fresh.

In recent times the Khachaturian Concerto has to some extent fallen from favor. When I was a youth it was one of the big modern Russian concerti along with Prokofiev 2 and, late in the 1950s, the Shostakovich 1, and one heard it in concert with some regularity. Happily there has been a bit of a revival lately, in spite of the tendency of some critics and programmers to think it is rather lightweight and too much of a populist work. Whatever the drawbacks it might have, it is an extremely effective piece with plenty of Khachaturian's Armenian flavorings, lots of rhythmic interest and virtuosity galore. Fischer brings to it a musicianly concern for dynamic subtlety and nuanced phrasing along with complete mastery of the concerto's technical difficulties. She eschews the Oistrakh edition of the concerto -- he extended the first movement cadenza and cut some measures in the finale -- and uses Khachaturian's original version. This is a first-class performance of a wonderful concerto which is worth one's attention.

One cannot but adore Prokofiev's First Violin Concerto. And one cannot say enough about the masterful orchestration Prokofiev provides, with harp intertwined with violin harmonics and extraordinarily plangent woodwind writing. The Russian National Orchestra, a group formed not long after the breakup of the Soviet Union and the stirrings of a new freedom in Russia, is a marvelous group. Their conductor here is Yakov Kreizberg, incidentally the brother of the probably better-known conductor Semyon Bychkov, who is making a very favorable impression these days. I've heard a number of his recent recordings and am mightily impressed with his formally clear approach that is, ironically, coupled with a really poetic sensibility. Clarity and poetry make wonderful partners in his recordings. Both Kreizberg and Fischer show us the darker side of the Prokofiev and in the process present it as the lyrical yet fierce work it is.

Glazunov's concerto is a late Romantic work in one movement. It is notable for its heartfelt lyricism, gorgeous tunes, and the equality of the orchestral principals with the violin soloists. It is really more like a symphony with violin obbligato, particularly in the long and lovely andante middle section. That aspect of the work is emphasized here and one must give credit to Fischer and the recording engineers for allowing that to shine through. Fischer is more generous, even self-effacing, in this than some soloist in other recordings the concerto has had (Perlman, Heifetz) and this is to the benefit of the work's effect. (A comparable concerto, to give you some idea of what I mean, is Brahms's Second Piano Concerto where the piano is not always the spotlighted star.) This is a genial reading with Fischer's burnished tone riding above and around the contributions by the orchestra. The folksong aspects of the finale are emphasized and one is left with a kind of uplift that makes one want to start the concerto all over again.

This is, make no mistake, a marvelous disc and I cannot recommend it highly enough. In addition, all three concerti are given strikingly lifelike sound.

Scott Morrison
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific trio of fine performances, 3 Dec 2012
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Glazunov; Khachaturian; Prokofiev - Violin Concertos (Audio CD)
Julia Fischer is not just a musically gifted and accurate violinist, but also as a fine pianist (see her DVD including the Grieg concerto). This particular recording was made in 2004 and partners her with her regular conductor colleague of the time, Yakov Kreizberg.

All three concertos are given the sort of sympathetic and technically secure performances that makes further options questionable if the program appeals. The Khachaturian starts the disc off and this is a very sparking performance full of Russian vigour and is much better recorded than previous recordings I have owned with much better balance. This applies to the whole disc and is an important consideration as it allows so much of the orchestral detail to shine through. The 'jumbo' violin soloist which afflicts so many other violin concerto recordings is thankfully absent here. In fact the superiority of the SACD format is quite clear when played through a good cinema surround sound set-up. Otherwise the stereo option is fine on its own behalf.

Moving on to the Prokofiev concerto, this first concerto inhabits the mystical world to be experienced in the 3rd symphony or the similarly derived ballet and operatic works. Essentially this is very imaginative and delicate textural writing and this recording allows these considerations to fully register. The nearest alternative example of this sensitivity that I can think of is that by Mintz with a younger Abbado at the helm. That has the more normal coupling of the two Prokofiev concertos. Another good one to consider is that by Lin.

Lastly there is the Glazunov concerto and again this benefits from a more orchestra-aware recording. The violin playing is also markedly more accurate in the tricky double stopping at the opening of the final movement - often a moment of doubtful tuning even from renowned violinists of considerable technical skill.

Overall therefore this disc can be viewed as something of a complete winner. The only problem some might have is with potential doubling up of repertoire within a collection. However, in this case, I would suggest that any doubling will be more than compensated for by these performances which may well prove to be favourites.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Extraordinary Debut Recording from One of Our Finest Young Violinists, 30 Sep 2008
By 
John Kwok (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Glazunov; Khachaturian; Prokofiev - Violin Concertos (Audio CD)
Acclaimed German violinist Julia Fischer truly burst onto the scene with this electrifying PentaTone recording of Russian Violin Concertos composed by the likes of Khachaturian, Prokofiev and Glazunov. This was - and still is - a splendid showcase of her formidable musical talents, since she plays each work with ample passion and empathy as well as exquisite technique; hers may be the "brightest" bright tones I have heard either live or in recordings from the current rising generation of virtuoso violinists hailing from Europe, North America and Asia. It is simply no exaggeration to assert that she plays with the ample technical depth and maturity shown by the mature Anne-Sophie Mutter, coupled with the emotional intensity of a Joshua Bell; without question she is the best twenty-something violinist I have heard, period.

Her exceptional fiery performance of the Khachaturian Violin Concerto in D minor is like no one I have heard; it is quite simply a class by itself in its emotional range. Her excellent playing of the second work, the Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major, is surprisingly self-assured and confident, in spite of its technical complexity. Last, but not least, she offers a compellingly lyrical account of the Glazunov Violin Concerto in A minor. In all three works she has splendid musical partners in Russian-American conductor Yakov Kriezberg and the Russian National Orchestra, whose performances of these works are as compelling as Fischer's. Anyone who is not acquainted yet with Fischer's admirable blend of technical brilliance and emotion will find much to be admired in this remarkable recording.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thumping good stuff!, 23 Oct 2011
By 
comm88 "comm88" (Chester, Cheshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Glazunov; Khachaturian; Prokofiev - Violin Concertos (Audio CD)
I wasn't sure how I'd react to this CD, but I am such a massive Julia Fischer fan, that I felt I had to own it. And I'm very glad that I do! Three very different Russian composers played with Ms Fischer's tonal certainty make it an exquisite listen. It is, at times, moody, soaring, deft and sublime. This girl knows how to work an orchestra and how to work with an orchestra. Can't fault it. Own it, revel in it and simply enjoy it. It's a wonderful audio experience especially on the SACD format.
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars magnificent debut!, 22 April 2005
By 
Mike (Hertfordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Glazunov; Khachaturian; Prokofiev - Violin Concertos (Audio CD)
This is the first recording I have found for this superb performer. Previously I have only heard her live. I am delighted she is now recording. The works sparke with youth and her interpretive abilities stretch far beyond her years. Buy this - listen - and enjoy!
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