Customer Review

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twisted Irony and Sarcasm, 9 Aug 2013
By 
This review is from: Bela Bartok: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 - Isabelle Faust (Audio CD)
Isabelle Faust can claim a direct line to Béla Bartók himself; as an eleven year old studying the Sonata for solo violin, her teacher was the Hungarian violinist Dénes Zsigmondy, who had known the composer personally. It was natural (she notes in the booklet) that she should choose the Bartók: Violin Sonatas as her debut disc. Now, again for Harmonia Mundi, she has taken on the two concertos.

Faust prepared carefully for these recordings with much research, the findings of which are detailed in her five page essay which accompanies the disc. She has clearly made some significant discoveries; for instance, on consulting the first performance solo part of the first concerto she found some annotations in the composer's own hand, which don't seem to have come to light before. In one of these reference is made quite specifically to the first few notes of the second movement, which Bartók wrote are to be played 'without vibrato'.

The first concerto is less often recorded than the second, but Faust makes as convincing case as possible for it to be brought back into the mainstream repertoire, both in her writing and in her playing. The work is a love-letter to the violinist Stefi Geyer, and the first notes were sketched during their holiday together in the summer of 1907. Geyer declined to perform it however, breaking off their relationship soon after it was finished. Bartók noted in a letter that for him, composition involved the whole self, exhibiting 'more exactly than a biography...the driving passions of a life'. All emotions were admitted, '...grief, rage, vengeance, twisted irony, sarcasm.' Faust here captures both the beauty which the composer idealised, but also the flip-side; the capriciousness and the cool indifference. More lyrical than the second concerto, and written before Bartók had fully absorbed the spikiness and occasional grotesquery of the various folk elements which were later to so engage him, this is a work of brief, svelte enchantment.

Faust has much competition in terms of the second concerto, with particularly strong recordings from Patricia Kopatchinskaja Bartok: Concerto No. 2, Eotvos: Seven, Ligeti; Violin Concerto, Kyung-Wha Chung Bartók: Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 2 and Isaac Stern - Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto, Bartok: Violin Concerto No.2, amongst many others. In a concerto in which it is tempting to fly to the alternate extremes of either pianissimo or outright frenzy, Faust finds a sort of repose from which she can expose the many colours in this at times contorted and convoluted work. The 'Sleeping Beauty' Stradivarius of 1704 is capable in her hands of producing breathtakingly beautiful legato passages which seem to defy any sense of bow strokes being made at all. On the other hand, when the music spins into a vortex at the climax of the last movement, the full power and majesty of the instrument is unleashed. It's fittingly echoed by the brass in the rarely heard original ending, with a sound which Faust herself describes as like 'the roaring of elephants'. Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra take the centre-stage here, in a glorious culmination to a wonderful performance all round.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

4.9 out of 5 stars (10 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (9)
4 star:
 (1)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Reviewer

JB
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

Location: Cambridge UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 145