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Edward Elgar, Violin Concerto CD

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Performer: Thomas Zehetmair (violin), Alice Coote (mezzo-soprano), Sir Mark Elder
  • Orchestra: Hallé Orchestra
  • Conductor: Sir Mark Elder
  • Composer: Sir Edward Elgar
  • Audio CD (1 Feb. 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Hallé
  • ASIN: B0036PUNH6
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,032 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Violin Concerto in B minor Op.61 - Thomas Zehetmair
  2. Prelude, The Kingdom Op.51 - Halle
  3. Prelude & Angel's Farewell, The Dream of Gerontius Op.38 - Alice Coote

Product description

Product description

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Review

Hard on the heels of Nikolaj Znaider's outstanding account of the Elgar ­concerto with Colin Davis and the ­Dresden Staatskapelle, released by RCA last month, comes another exceptional recording of the work, the latest addition to Mark Elder and the Hallé's Elgar series. The performances are very different: where Znaider's wonderfully secure, measured performance has a steely, ­virtuosic edge, Thomas Zehetmair's playing is more passionate and openly expressive. It takes more risks inter­pretatively, which occasionally don't come off, so there is an edge of danger. Zehetmair's approach is arguably closer to the heart of Elgar's deeply personal work than Znaider's, and though it is hard to choose between the two versions, the Hallé disc's two extra tracks might just tip the balance in its favour. Elder opens with a luminous account of the prelude to the oratorio The Kingdom, floating its 'New Faith' with transcendent beauty, and follows the concerto with an ­authentic rarity the arrangement with chorus that Elgar himself made of the Prelude and Angel's Farewell from The Dream of Gerontius, creating his own Prelude and Liebestod. --Andrew Clements, The Guardian

A towering performance of Elgar's Violin Concerto with Thomas Zehetmair, a soloist of fierce intelligence. Unlocking the work's volcanic emotions ...he certainly found the reflective tenderness. He and Elder's taut yet flexible orchestra were at one in the visionary poetry of the finale, making this a performance of exceptional detail happily one that will appear on the orchestra s own CD label. --The Sunday Telegraph

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
What I mean by my heading is that this recording took more time to reveal it's merits than other recordings of this work have. Having written a fulsome review of the recent Znaider recording I found myself slightly resenting this recording on first hearing. My mistake is that this performance takes more time to reveal it's beauties. There is no easy victory here!

The Violin playing here is not as 'beautiful' as on the Znaider recording and there are one or two moments where the ferocious double stopping does sound a little like 'scrunching celery'. However, the tremendous virtuosity in the other 98% of the playing more than compensates for this.

What I grew to love about this performance is that it doesn't hang around! At the risk of committing a heinous crime I'm going to suggest that the revered Menuhin/Composer recording can sound a little 'heavy going' at time. Others have fallen into this trap - not least Ida Haendel and that great Elgarian Sir Adrian Boult. Elder and his soloist keep the momentum going at all times without giving the impression of skating over the surface of what is a deeply felt composition.

The CD is worth having for the extras too. Hopefully, the Prelude to 'The Kingdom' will encourage others to listen to this under-rated score. Highly recommended.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This disc contains recordings made between 2005 and 2008. The concerto itself was made in 2008 following on from 'live' performances. This gives the recording an extra sense of an event caught in the act of creation as if 'live.' However, it needs to be stressed that the recorded balance, by placing the violin more naturally also has the effect of reducing its sonic impact. The soloist himself is very accurate technically but is not possessed of the broader tonal textures often associated with players of this concerto.

Nevertheless, one of the pleasures of this disc is that it is yet another example of the way this masterpiece has been taken to heart by the international musical community and the concerto thus joins those long since established composed by Beethoven, Brahms and numerous others up to the present day.

The range of fine modern recordings is astonishing and cover a very short period of time. Only very recently have there been remarkable and memorable discs of the work made by Znaider, Shaham and Ehnes to join those of the less recent past made by Kennedy and Menuhin. None of these can be ignored as all have deep and personal insights to offer, and in today's world of recordings, it is also likely that the more modern recordings owe something to the achievements of previous recordings which may have helped to shape, positively or negatively, the later recordings.

Zehetmair brings a very fluid response to this concerto and in this he is fully supported by Mark Elder and the orchestra. The playing is both sensitive and challengingly fast and exciting although, as suggested above, some may find his tone as caught on the recording, to be rather small.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I heard Zehetmair play this wonderful work a day or two before this recording was made. The live performance was breathtaking but challenging, with some quite rough intonation and intense commitment. The CD is better, in the sense that it can be heard over and over (which the live performance probably couldn't). Great stuff.

These things are subjective but my order for this concerto (of which I own over 30 versions on CD) is 1. Sammons 1929 (more or less definitive); then of the excellent set of versions in modern sound 2. James Ehnes 3. Zehetmair 4. Gil Shaham.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars 4 reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Oh well. 15 Mar. 2013
By Gail E. Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Th violin is barely heard. The orchestra can be very loud when it wants to m but the violin is always muffled.
4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Elgar violin concerto 13 Nov. 2010
By Rudolf Hammermeister - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The performance of the concerto is very good, but the sound is not great, and considerably less good than for the two other works on this disc, which is curious.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely and unusual fillers boost a reading of the Violin Cto. that isn't very memorable 9 Dec. 2012
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Sir Mark elder has undertaken a massive project to record a complete Elgar edition, and the installments I've heard have been committed, recorded in excellent sound (putting them ahead of classic Boult and Barbirolli recordings in at least one respect), and above criticism. but that's not the same as inspired, and the English are so dedicated to Elgar, their Wagner and Brahms rolled into one, that inspired recordings aren't hard to find. In this program we end with a touch of wagnerism, in that Elgar did an arrangement of the very beginning and end of The Dream of Gerontius much as Wagner arranged the Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan for concert use. We also get the orchestral prelude to a much less well known oratorio,The Kingdom, so the Violin Cto. is bookended by two rarities.

It was brave to bypass British violinists to ask an Austrian, Thomas Zehetmair, to record the concerto, but he is familiar to UK audiences as conductor of the Northern Sinfonia, based initially in Newcastle upon Tyne, and currently in Gateshead. I am an admirer of Zehetmair, a complete musician whose playing is always personal and interesting. for that reason alone he makes a good choice a soloist, and his light, silvery approach falls gracefully on the ear - he avoids making the score sound over-stuffed and imperial. I suppose that to an Elgar devotee, nursed on three classic Menuhin recordings or a fan of Kennedy's wow-factor showmanship, Zehetmair might seem to underplay the concerto. However, I appreciated his fresh take, which I'd put on a par with Hilary Hahn's on DG.

The drawback is that the Elgar Violin Concerto is symphonic in scale, like the Brahms, and the grand orchestration makes Zehetmair sound a bit small and alone. Elder's conducting is also too straight-ahead. Elgar's writing is always pictorial, even when there's no expressed program, and it needs to create its own expansive landscape, full of vistas and robust activity. for a reading that brings orchestra and soloist together in a sumptuous way, I'd recommend Nikolaj Znaider and sir Colin Davis with a glorious Dresden Staatskapelle on BMG. For the most inspired Menuhin reading, I'd choose a live performance on BBC Legends with Boult - theirs is certainly the most moving account I've ever heard. You learn immediately what it means to "speak Elgar."

Despite the appealing fillers - with Alice Coote singing a lovely Angel's Farewell from Gerontius, minus the chorus - the main work on this CD isn't very memorable.
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine and often exciting account but many find the recorded balance is an unfavourable consideration on this disc 14 Sept. 2013
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This disc contains recordings made between 2005 and 2008. The concerto itself was made in 2008 following on from 'live' performances. This gives the recording an extra sense of an event caught in the act of creation as if 'live.' However, it needs to be stressed that the recorded balance, by placing the violin more naturally also has the effect of reducing its sonic impact. The soloist himself is very accurate technically but is not possessed of the broader tonal textures often associated with players of this concerto.

Nevertheless, one of the pleasures of this disc is that it is yet another example of the way this masterpiece has been taken to heart by the international musical community and the concerto thus joins those long since established composed by Beethoven, Brahms and numerous others up to the present day.

The range of fine modern recordings is astonishing and cover a very short period of time. Only very recently have there been remarkable and memorable discs of the work made by Znaider, Shaham and Ehnes to join those of the less recent past made by Kennedy and Menuhin. None of these can be ignored as all have deep and personal insights to offer, and in today's world of recordings, it is also likely that the more modern recordings owe something to the achievements of previous recordings which may have helped to shape, positively or negatively, the later recordings.

Zehetmair brings a very fluid response to this concerto and in this he is fully supported by Mark Elder and the orchestra. The playing is both sensitive and challengingly fast and exciting although, as suggested above, some may find his tone as caught on the recording, to be rather small.

A different approach can readily be heard in the Menuhin/Boult version from the 1960's where Menuhin brings a particularly broad tome to bear. Kennedy has made two recordings of the concerto. The later version with Rattle is very fine but there is a tendency to linger which results in drops of tension. That is not the case with the earlier version with Handley. That version has now been re-issued in a finely re-mastered form which has greatly increased the impact of the whole performance. That must now be considered as one of the very best now available, especially with its extra couplings.

More recent versions of particular note include Gill Shaham's impressive account but rather short measure as there is no coupling offered.. James Ehnes also delivers a very fine account and that has a fine rendition of the String Serenade and all is conducted by Andrew Davis with his usual authority in Elgar. Znaider's account has also received glowing opinion.

One possible advantage that this current disc has in what is a remarkably level playing field is in its extra items. The two preludes and the Angel's Farewell from Elgar's two oratorios are given very fine performances here by the players and by Alison Coote. These pieces will have particular resonance for listeners with Roman Catholic beliefs of course.

To sum up what may now seem to be rather a confusing situation, I would suggest that this new disc joins others of equal but different merit. In a different age it would have undoubtedly have swept the board. That comment could equally be applied to the others listed above. The modern collector is truly spoiled for choice which is why so many collectors now own so many of these discs. That may be the only real answer to the dilemma of which to own.

The purchaser looking for just one disc of this concerto could be happy with any of them and not feel disadvantaged. Certainly this new disc could well fill that 'one only' requirement and that is a considerable achievement by Zehetmair and his colleagues. Personal taste will be a major factor and especially as regards recorded balance and the presence thus afforded to the solo violin. Zehetmair is the least dominant in that regard.

...........................................

A response to the anonymous negative voter of the previous version of this slightly modified review:

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