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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Virtuoso violin, 15 July 2010
Mr. John Manning (Penarth, Vale of Glam Wales) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Violin Concertos - Annar Folleso, Norwegian Radio Orch. (Blu-Ray) (Blu-ray Audio)
As the title suggests, this issue consists of 2 violin concertos by Ole Bull, the Concerto in A major and the Concerto Fantastico. There are also 4 more descriptive works, Sæterjentens Søndag (the Herdgirl's Sunday); Et Sæterbesøg (a Mountain Vision); I Ensomme Stunde (la Melancolie) and La Verbena De San Juan. All of these call for a violin soloist of quality. Ole Bull himself had a prodigious talent, and influenced the young Grieg, among others.
The concertos display a facility for melody and rhythm more than for structure, but are unmistakeably his own, not to be confused with any other composer. Of the two I found the Concerto Fantastico more immediately appealing. Even more ear-catching are the characteristic pieces; La Verbena De San Juan's Spanish rhythms and percussion being most persuasive.
The Norwegian Radio Orchestra under Ole Kristian Rudd with soloist Anna Folleso leave nothing to be desired in a committed, virtuosic and affectionate performance.

2L have given us a choice of media; SACD hybrid and 'Pure Audio blu-ray' in three formats. In their booklet (available on the blu-ray disc in Adobe acrobat form) they explain the philosophy behind the recording technique most interestingly, with illustrations of the chamber-like orchestra's layout with microphone positioning. I was able to sample both discs for comparison on my Oppo BD-83 player and (blu-ray only) via a Popcorn Hour C-200 media player. In both formats, the recordings are ideal, clear yet with ambience, full in frequency and dynamic range, revealing yet sympathetic. On balance I found the SACD to be slightly more refined, possibly more extended in the high frequencies and more immediately revealing of the starting transients of percussion. Surround in both discs is handled expertly with the rear speakers adding greatly to the ambience.
This, my first audio-only blu-ray, I count as a great success. Whereas I would hesitate to rank Ole Bull amongst the world's most celebrated composers, his music is most listenable, presented here in an exceptionally fine fashion.
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