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This disc, well recorded in 2011 and 2012, won the coveted Gramophone award of disc of the year 2013. This will not come as a surprise to anyone purchasing this disc.

The disc couples together three works that are of particular Hungarian significance. Two of these are very recent works by Ligeti (1992) and Eotvos (2007). These are preceded by Bartok's Violin concerto 2, one of last century's finest violin concertos first performed in 1939 and one of the composer's last works.

The Bartok concerto was written at a time when the composer's interest in Hungarian folk styles, both song and dance, had developed far beyond that of being an influence and had progressed into becoming an integral part of the thought processes fundamental to original creations such as this concerto. The Hungarian folk nature of the work informs the shaping of the melody lines and the strongly rhythmical structure of the work, both of which are constantly evolving. This evolution is also the natural result of the variation format of much of the concerto.

The dedicatee of the concerto, Zoltan Szekely, had insisted that Bartok should write a full-blown three movement concerto rather than the set of variations that the composer had originally had in mind. In the event the three movements contain a second movement which is a set of variations and the last movement is a variant of the first movement. In this way both player and composer were accommodated.

Patricia Kopatchinskaja delivers a performance here that has remarkable technical accomplishment in every detail of this demanding work. She also delivers the wildest and most dramatically contrasted reading currently available. In this way she is able to emphasise the inherent links between this concerto and its Hungarian folk inspirations. It is this wildness of the inspirational moment, which at no time becomes trite or playing for transient effects, that makes this recording of the concerto so distinctive. Previously, only Thomas Zehetmair gets near this performance for wildness and only Andre Gertler, Bartok's duo colleague for 13 years from 1925-1938, gets near to the essential Nationalist flavour of the writing. Patricia Kopatchinskaja manages to deliver both and that is the mark of her considerable achievement.

The two additional works by Eotvos and Ligeti inhabit an even more complex world of thought and are strikingly more modern in their compositional language.

The Ligeti concerto originated as a three movement work but was later extended to its current, and definitive, five movement form. The detailed sleeve notes accurately describe the work and the following quotes may give a good idea of what to expect: 'The traditional five-movement formal scheme fast-slow-fast-slow-fast is constantly brought to the point of explosion.' 'Folksong-like simplicity, a solemn chorale and misterioso atmosphere in the slow movements are destroyed by painful stabbing interventions of the orchestra, and the brief central movement, with its rapt violin solo over the restless subsurface, ends as a frenzied race towards disaster.' It is not surprising that this music is not easy to follow or understand but conversely it is difficult to imagine a more committed reading and performance as the one presented here.

The other modern piece, Seven, by Peter Eotvos, was inspired by the deaths of the seven astronauts on the Challenger space shuttle. Within this two part composition there are seven extended cadenzas, each dedicated to one of the seven astronauts. Once more, the sleeve notes may provide readers with a clear idea of the musical content of this work as follows: In the first part, the driving rhythmical power of the solo violin generates an agitated character that is interrupted only by the cadenzas. In contrast to this, the second part, aside from a few violent tutti outbursts, is more reflective. ....... 'the piece ends in a long meditation for the solo violin in its low register, accompanied by the alto flute.'

By using quotes from the informative sleeve notes, the intention is to give a more thorough and accurate view of these last two works than I feel able to do at this early stage of listening. What is perfectly clear is that all the performers deliver deeply committed readings of immense skill. The recording is of an equal high quality. It is no surprise that such an issue would attract the attention of the Gramophone critical adjudicators.

I would therefore suggest that this is a disc of considerable distinction offering an ear-opening reading of the Bartok concerto coupled with thought-provoking couplings, both major works in their own way. As such, this disc deserves serious consideration as a purchase from followers of any one, or more, of Bartok, Ligeti and Eotvos.
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on 23 September 2013
I'm not going to say much, as this has just won the Gramophone record of the year, and so will hopefully get all the attention it deserves. Great performers, and Kopatchinskaja nearly levitates at times in her engagement with these three works. Totally absorbing. The Bartók is performed in a rather more "in your face" way than is normally the case, and is all the better for it, although I can assure potential purchasers that the softer passages are really really beautifully done. As for the Ligeti, well, it is in some way a "bonkers" work as we say in the UK, with many jaw-dropping things going on in it, including of course the ocarinas! It is also quite thrilling and moving, sometimes both simultaneously, and you really feel you are in the presence of a truly great piece of recent classical/ art music that's for sure. A masterpiece by a really fantastic crafts person of sound. Eotvos's own piece is actually pretty passionate and engaging too, absolutely not to be skipped over. Stretch your ears, and if you buy this you'll help emphasise that classical music is not all about a quick buck or compromise these days :)
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on 9 February 2015
This is a Bartok in a thousand. The notes I jotted as I listened include the following...
Nervous energy... Power... Synergy... Tenderness... Orchestral detail... Singing... Raging... Innigkeit... Visionary... Shimmering beauty... Intense sadness... Precision and passion combined... "Speaking" violin tone... There's nothing she can't do, and no risk she takes that doesn't come off... Spiccato like I've never heard it before... GO PATRICIA, GO!!
Maybe you'd better just buy this & listen for yourself!! The Eotvos and Ligeti are very fine too.
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on 23 September 2013
In the preface to the booklet Patricia Kopatchinskaja provides an insight into her experience of recording these three works with Eötvös and Ensemble Modern: "Between heaven and earth, past and future, I sank for a moment into the Hungarian cosmos and sensed whispers, fragments and signs of living and immortal souls. From light and darkness, dream and wakefulness, music burst forth."

It's striking how this trio of Hungarian works for violin and orchestra hold together, musical cohesiveness being attained almost in spite of an aurora of sounds which at times defy comprehension. Perhaps the most apparent link is in the Balkan heritage, the folk influences which permeate each work, animating further mysterious and at times wild musical landscapes. Kopatchinskaja herself was brought up in a Moldovan household where the richness of folk music was all around her (her mother was a violinist and her father a cimbalom player), and indeed these performances perhaps owe more to the Transylvanian mountains and meadows than they do to the concert hall.

Kopatchinskaja approaches the Bartók in the spirit of a gnarled folk-fiddler, albeit with the technique of a virtuoso; her bow alternately inflecting the score with most delicate of gossamer-like whispers contrasted with the coarsest of woody raspings. This is raw and unpolished playing; the traditional salons of the nineteenth century are of another place and another age.

In the Eötvös work, a meditation on the tragic Columbia space mission of 2003 in which all seven of the astronauts died, the music seems to reach upwards from the temporal towards the cosmic, the pattern of seven repeating itself throughout the arrangement of the orchestra as well as in the score.

The Ligeti inhabits a different sound-world altogether, yet in its polyrhythmic complexity seems to develop some of the themes which have already been established in the first two works. Kopatchinskaja is here required to accompany herself at one point by singing, which in this context seems like a consummation of her desire to inhabit both the inner and outer musical worlds. Her habit of playing barefoot is well known, but her justification for it seems to sum up this album: "I have more connection with the earth and with the energy which goes through me to the sky."
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on 30 October 2013
and was hesitating about buying another recorded. This disc, however, is worth all the accolades it has earned and the other two concertos are wonderful. Worth it even without the Bartok, which is impeccable.
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on 25 October 2013
I love the opening of Bartok and the serene beauty of Ligeti. Eotvos Seven is extremely moving. Sound in all three is great! Amazon communications and delivery was first class.
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on 29 April 2013
If you heard Kopatchinskaya playing before you may have an idea about how energetic she can be on stage...
Now, multiply this by 100! This CD is crazily intense. It's special. It must be listened a little louder than your average violin concerts.
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on 31 August 2013
A fascinating compilation of beautiful works. I chose the CD for the Bartok, which I have always loved, but was very grateful to get the Ligeti and Eotvos as well. The Ligeti is particularly fine.
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on 10 May 2015
Excellent recording - wonderful sound quality
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on 11 October 2013
A marvellous discovery at a VG price
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