Customer Review

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly disappointing for a performance highly rated in Building a Library, 6 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Walton & Barber: Violin Concertos & Works for Strings (MP3 Download)
As a devout Walton fan, I'm always looking out for new and refreshing performances of Walton's finest.
After hearing so much about this performance recently, especially after the recent high commendation on Building a Library, I listened to an MP3 download of this.
Firstly, it is indeed intimate and freshly thought out, the product of a very musical collaboration, and a genuinely new statement, for which I am truly grateful.
Secondly, it has a certain old-school feel to some of the violinistic effects, whilst clearly of the current generation of technically skilled musicians. Again I really appreciate much of this. If you wish to hear another way of playing this concerto, this will be of great interest, and may be The One for you.

For those who are already committed to this disc, this review is not intended to diminish your pleasure.
But. For anyone thinking of buying this, you should appreciate the following points, which make me very disappointed in the performance.

When put alongside those by Tasmin Little, Akiko Suwonai, James Ehnes, and Camilla Wicks (IMO the four consistently outstanding modern non-Heifetzian performances), I cannot commend it as highly as all the other reviewers for the following reasons.

Violin sound. This most beautiful of instruments, an adorable Amati from 1659, is said to have a wonderful enveloping sound in concert. I was very disappointed by the rather boxy overly "forward" sound image in the recording, which IMO doesn't do justice to an instrument of this class, and is a technical disappintment which I find almost bring me to tears. The closeness of the violin sound unfortunately also catches a few too many episodes of rough-edged bow sounds "between the notes" in an unflattering way.

Intonation. I am surprised that so few people comment on the insecure intonation throughout the performance. Even the MP3 samples pick out a few disappointments. The pitch accuracy is unnervingly insecure during many episodes of triple stopping, and is particularly disappointing during the otherwise ethereal accompanied cadenza. I was very suprised by this, and found it particularly painful if one is used to hearing the scintillating pitch perfection of Little, Suwonai, Ehnes, Kang (and the marvellous Old Timer Standard of Heifetz/Walton).

Generally idiosyncratic rubato. This is purely a matter of taste, for me it is at times perceptive, refreshing, and very tasteful, but there are times where it is a bit too unsubtle and probably more suitable for an engrossing live performance where one can perceive so much more in the performance than just the recorded sound.

Overall, whilst I found this extremely interesting to listen to once, I found the intonation insecurity and boxy sound painfully disappointing to listen to the second time.
As a library Choice, I am bemused. Not one for the permanent collection in my opinion FWIW.
I owe thanks to those who recommended it, though.
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