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Violin Concertos Hybrid SACD, SACD

3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin
  • Conductor: Marek Janowski
  • Composer: Antonin Dvorak, Karol Szymanowski
  • Audio CD (12 Oct. 2009)
  • Please Note: Requires SACD-compatible hardware
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD, SACD
  • Label: Pentatone
  • ASIN: B002KUZC9W
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 184,939 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Szymanowski - Violin Concerto No.1 Op.35 - Arabella Steinbacher
  2. Dvorak - Romance for Violin and Orchestra in F minor Op.11 - Arabella Steinbacher
  3. Dvorak - Violin Concerto in A minor Op.53 - Arabella Steinbacher

Product Description

Product Description

Steinbacher,Arabella/Janowski,Marek/RSB Berlin


This Pentatone release is an out and out revelation. The playing of Ms. Steinbacher is out of this world. The recording quality is second to none. There is exceptional blending of soloist and orchestra and not a second of unsatisfying playing by either to be heard. The dynamic range is spectacular and this is the finest Szymanowski I have heard. I have played this disc daily for the last two weeks and have been thrilled each time I hear it. The Dvorak concerto is given new life, and the sound of her Stradivarius is marvellous. This is a disc that belongs in every collection. While the CD layer is excellent, the DSD layer is exemplary in every way possible. Not to be missed. --Hifi+ Magazine

The recording of the Szymanowski is simply sensational; the orchestral timbres are more refined than in The Pearls of Polish Music Szymanowski (BeArTon) which pays great dividends in their extraordinary passages without violin - few can have written for such contrasting ranges of texture in such a short space of time. Steinbacher herself simply soars gracefully above it all with a unobtrusive virtuosity, as if singing her heart out and does so without any sense of forcing herself which is sometimes noticeable in The Pearls of Polish Music Szymanowski (BeArTon). A quite extraordinary reading that makes it hard to imagine the work being performed any other way. The Romance by Dvorak seperates the two concertos and is given a most touching reading that simply presents the music as it is - no histrionics or mere note reading, just an assured touch of musicality. In the Dvorak concerto, Steinbacher is appropriately more outwardly virtuosic and for once, thanks to superb balancing of Janowski and the recording, one relishes the interplay (particularly) of the woodwind and her solo lines. Tempo choices are not extreme in either way for each of the three movements, so all the music is allowed (as in all good Dvorak performances) to speak easily without a sense of dragging or being rushed. A fine reading of this relatively little heard and recorded work, one that does much to give it a better reputation in this listeners mind than other commentators have granted it in the past. All in all, this is a stunning debut from Steinbacher, showing a really musical understanding of two very different scores and also an excellent partnership with Janowski and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin; hopefully Steinbacker and Janowski will work together again for there is real chemistry on display here. As for comparisons in style to Fischer, Steinbacher is her equal on this evidence and quite possibly better in that her vibrato is less steely and so her sound is more relaxed when desired, making for a more varied timbre. The sound from Pentatone (in a co-production with Deutschlandradio Kultur) is extraordinary as befits the Szymanowski. Rarely does a violin concerto sound so naturally balanced vis a vis soloist and orchestra yet retain so much of the myriad of sounds that Szymanowski throws at them. The dynamic range is spectacular as well and arguably sets new standards for the label. Highly recommended in every way possible. Performance 5 stars / Sonics 5 Stars --http://www.sa-cd.net/showreviews/6121#6714

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
The strad sounds glorious, and the disc is beautifully engineered, the soloist neither too forward nor too recessed - just right. The Szymanowski is certainly excellent, and probably alone justifies the price of the disc. The main limitation is the Dvorak which is unexciting and pedestrian compared to the alternatives.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x97802084) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9833d798) out of 5 stars Magnificent Recording - Warm but spirited interpretations 18 Nov. 2009
By Bruce Zeisel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Being really addicted to hearing "concert hall realism" in my listening room via 5 channel surround sound recordings by such as PentaTone, Channel Classics, Chandos, BIS, Telarc, and many others (Tudor, Simax, CPO, LSO Live come immediately to mind), I was verging on depression when it was announced that my favorite violinist of all time, Julia Fischer was leaving PentaTone to sign on with Decca. While she may have gained more revenue thereby, it was as if we listeners were tranferred from a Rolls limousine to a 40's Chevy. A well set up 5 channel system playing a properly recorded surround SACD has the unique quality of being able to transport the listener to a fine seat in the concert hall. By comparison, even the best RBCD stereo disc on the finest CD player is hopelessly crippled when it comes to soundstaging.

Then PentaTone announced the signing on of Arabella Steinbacher, not said, but ostensibly to replace Julia Fischer. In her notes for the PentaTone "Russian Concertos" disc, Julia wrote that she fell in love with the Khachaturian violin concerto when she was 12 and heard the then 15 yr old Arabella Steinbacher playing it in a concert in Munich. Julia began violin studies with Helga Thelen at age 3 and at age 4 began lessons with Lydia Dubrowskaya. At age 9 she was admitted to the Munich Conservatory. Only one other has ever been admitted at that tender age to conservatory studies with Ana Chumachenko - Arabella Steinbacher, who also began with Helga Thelen at age 3!

At the Verbier Music Festival in Switzerland this past summer, Chumchenko was giving master classes. We had just been treated to a performance of Beethoven's Sonata #8 and afterwards I was waiting for a bus outside and chatting with a young German woman who also had attended the masterclass. When I told her that I had heard Arabella play that sonata in March at Middlebury College VT, and then 5 weeks later heard Julia play it in Union College in Schenectady, she was all lit up with questions: Could you tell that they had the same teacher? Could you tell that they were from the same school of violin playing?

Last November my wife and I flew from Albany NY to Cincinnati OH to hear Julia play the Dvorak concerto with the Cincinnati Symphony because we realized there would never be a Julia Fischer PentaTone recording of it and no Decca CD will ever come close to mending the loss.

Julia is said to particularly favor the Dvorak because her mother is from Czechoslovakia. To quote the newspaper review published the next day, she gave an "uncommonly beautiful" rendition of the concerto. We thought so too!

What of Steinbacher's recording? Well, quoting the young woman from the Verbier Festival, "Can you tell that they come from the same school of violin playing?"

I was hesitant then to provide a yes-no answer. I said both young artists are individuals. One was not a carbon copy of the other, but that what they seem to have in common is an ability really get the music across - to communicate with the audience in a way to totally involve the listener 100% of the time.

Now I see more similarities!

Like Fischer, Steinbacher invests the music with absolute commitment. Like Fischer, Steinbacher is an essentially lyrical player with a fine intellectual grasp of what she is playing. But on evidence of this recording, Steinbacher gives us a warmer even more lyrical performance, never sacrificing drama! She phrases broadly but applies microdynamics within a phrase, creating an exceptionally singing interpretation that lacks nothing when intense passionate declamations are called for. Steinbacher makes the Dvorak actually seem even greater than I had imagined.

Of the impressionistic sounding Symanowski, I can say that both PentaTone and Steinbacher do it a justice it has never previously received in a recording. The dense orchestration is lucidly reproduced with never a hint of congestion and the violin rides in its highest registers over the loudest passages creating an ethereal wonder world of sound.

This, really, is strongly recommended
HASH(0x9833d7f8) out of 5 stars I agree with Bruce's review................... 24 Oct. 2010
By Paul - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Even the ROMANCE in F was deeply touching and the engineers at Pentatone deserve high praise; the violin performance was spectacular on this disc. Highly recommended. A true sonic delight on good high end equipment.
8 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97c93828) out of 5 stars Limp, not limpid 9 Feb. 2010
By Stan J. VanSandt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I'm sorry but this is not a good recording of the Dvorak concerto. I looked forward to hearing it, having heard a recording of Steinbacher playing Milhaud that I loved, but I was so disappointed that I immediately put on an old version that I haven't heard in years -- in case I was just in a bad mood -- and compared the two, score in hand. Suk and Ancerl simply play rings around this new recording. In the first movement Janowski and Steinbacher sound cautious and tentative: her constant pulling back of the tempo destroys the forward momentum of what should be an exciting ride. The conductor makes nothing of what should be a wonderful interplay between the soloist and various wind instruments, and the orchestra, in fact, mostly play as if they were either sightreading the piece or sleepwalking through it due to overfamiliarity. Things do not improve in the other movements. Even the sound is disappointing: the basses and cellos sound as wooly and unfocused as a bad recording from the 78 era, in complete contrast to the bite and presence the base lines have in the old Supraphon recording. Because I haven't listened to the Szymanowski yet, I thought it would be unfair to give this recording only one star, but if you are looking for a good performance of the Dvorak, look elsewhere!
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