The Beethoven violin concerto poses curious problems for listener and player. The virtuoso wants to shine, and the music wants to flow with joy and life, though there can be a tendency for conductors and soloists to want to bring broader grandeur. But the music requires a great deal of nuanced reflective playing between ensemble and soloist at a good moving pace to give it the transparently uplifting quality Beethoven clearly intended, or else it becomes ponderously grandiose and downheartening to the listener, even sombre in places. Consequently, that effectively keeps the soloist as an integral part of the ensemble, and demands swift delicate clarity, rather than a dominant honey-rich glittery virtuoso-style. The question of pace and tempo has been a dealbreaker for most of the versions since the great days of Heifetz, Kogan, Milstein for example. However, Isabelle Faust is clearly extremely historically well-informed with exquisite musical taste and plays with terrific purity, happiness, and character. The solo and orchestra are a complete whole, no virtuoso prima-donna-isms here. There is a lightness of heart from beginning to end, and seriousness of intent when needed. If only other performances could match the spells of quietness and space, the lovely delicatamente in the third movement, and the perfection of phrasing dynamics and forward flow, that characterises her playing and rapport. I am utterly convinced by this performance, and the recording quality. I have put aside Zehetmair/Brüggen and Milstein/Steinberg, and now understand the reasons for similarities and contrasts in Heifetz/Munch and Kogan/Silvestri's different readings (pace phrasing and space) so much better after hearing Faust's masterclass here. This recording surely is a lesson in Beethoven we should all take to heart. The Kreutzer Sonata, btw, is simply the best I have heard on disc. Perfect partnership and excellently judged musicianship in every way. This is a must-have classical library disc.
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I have various recordings of the Bethoven Violin Concerto ,Kogan,Heifetz,Ricci,Perlaman,Zuckerman.....my personal favourite has always been Milstein,for me his Beethoven was the one. However,i was browsing ,wanting a Beethoven violin sonata set ,i have Kreisler (my first)and Perlman ,couldn't find a Milstein set ,reviews were interesting so i took the plunge and bought the Faust/Melnikov set.Glad i did,absolutely stunning,perfect Beethoven as i have never heard ,the subtleties of dynamics in both violinist and pianist are breathtaking.Spurred on by this i bought the Concerto ,best recording ive ever heard,replaces all others in my opinion. Modern violin playing is a funny business on the one hand you have Vegnerov and Gil Shaham extending the Heifetz legacy and on the other Manze and others pushing the original instrument perspective,Isobelle Faust has managed to play Beethoven in such a way as we are unaware of the performer and totally aware of Beethoven. So ,more of this please,i would Love to hear her take on Mozart,i'm sure she could beat my Mutter set into the ground.
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