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A benchmark performance for many and remembered with affection,
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This review is from: Tchaikovsky/Sibelius: Violin Concertos (DECCA The Originals) (Audio CD)
This recording from 1970 propelled the 22 year old Kyung Wha Chung onto the world stage where she remained for many years during which she recorded many well-respected performances of the repertoire. On this recording she was partnered by the young Andre Previn who was also much liked as a personality at that time and who went on to create a very popular series of TV programs with the LSO.
For those who have lived with various issues of these recordings, from the original LPs through to this latest 24 bit remastering, all that really needs to be said is that this latest version is the best yet providing extra depth of sound-stage, clarity of detail and a generally enhanced sense of reality. Bearing in mind the quality of the performance judged over many years and the enhanced recording, I would suggest that it is worth the additional outlay of an upgrade for those who already own an earlier edition.
The following comments are of more importance to those coming to this remarkable pair of performances for the first time and are interested to know what all the fuss is about.
As a result of all the exposure mentioned in paragraph one, vast numbers of the public bought this issue and got to know the music through this recording. Once an interpretation has taken hold, especially at an impressionable age, it is like to become a reference point. Nevertheless this recording also attracted very favourable reviews across the board from critics including those writing for the respected Gramophone magazine. We must assume that these experienced listeners were able to make reasonably reliable judgements and as such they admired this performance and recording even in the light of violinists such as Heifetz, also well-known for this particular repertoire.
Since 1970 there have been many other fine violinists, fine performances and fine recordings of both works and it would be doubtful to suggest that any one has the complete monopoly of interpretive or performance supremacy. This recording has always enjoyed universal critical approval since its first appearance. Chung delivers a performance of such great accuracy and increasing momentum that any desire for her performance to differ in any major way has never applied. The conclusions of both concertos are very exciting and leaves a satisfied listener marvelling.
It might be worth mentioning that the last movement of the Tchaikovsky has the repetitive phrases cut as was normal in those days. Her remake reinstated the missing bars but this earlier performance has a sense of spontaneity that is very special and the slow movement is just like a continuous song unfolding before our ears. However, inevitably there are other recordings that are valued as well such as Mullover and Bell plus numerous others of older vintage such as the excellently remastered Heifetz version.
In summary I would suggest that this disc, thought by many to be near definitive, must be considered seriously by any purchaser intent on purchasing one or several recordings of these two masterpieces.