Berg's violin concerto is never going to replace Bruch at the top of Classic FM's list of classical favourites. The achievement of Isabelle Faust, Claudio Abbado and Orchestra Mozart is that they make this uncompromising work approachable and worth repeated listening to discover more of its secret depths and suffering. Throughout Faust and the orchestra play superbly and the recording brings out not just the solo violin but also the varied orchestral sounds of saxophone, tuba, contrabassoon and harp. With some of Abbado's DG recordings I have found the dynamic range too extreme for comfortable home listening: despite the wide dynamics of this concerto from quiet solos to orchestral tutti that is not a problem here, and Harmonia Mundi's engineers are to be congratulated that the end result sounds natural. I already have recordings of the Beethoven concerto by Chung, Menuhin, Jansen and Kennedy so I really didn't need another. Faust's gorgeous tone and sense of line, the unanimity of soloist and orchestra, and the well balanced recording make this my new first choice. This is a CD which has won many awards and had countless excellent reviews, and fully deserves them. Strongly recommended even if you already have other recordings of Beethoven's concerto.
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Unfortunately this review has to be for the Beethoven concerto only.I had not previously heard the Berg before and did not immediately take to it. I have now played ii three times and have enjoyed it more on on each occasion but it is not really "my music"and I have nothing with which to compare the performance.
As far as the Beethoven is concerned I was delighted.My previous favorite was the Perlman/Giulini recording which I still love but I thought this was at least as good.The cadenza that Faust plays is based on that written by Beethoven for his transcription for the piano and which is generally considered to be the most successful part of that transcription.The accompaniment for the tympani is retained but the solo part is not retranscribed note for note and certainly sounds to me to be totally in keeping with the violin.I really liked it.
Altogether I was totally satisfied with this performance and recording and willreturn to it again and again.It will also give me the chance to get to know the Berg and I will now seek out further recordings by Isobel Faust.
Beethoven and Berg may seem an odd coupling, but with these interpretations they seem somehow to be natural partners. The Beethoven feels as fresh as if it had just been written, and the Berg is utterly convincing. No two performances of Berg's concerto ever sound the same, even though Berg was meticulous in pointing the balance of the instruments (even using an alto sax to fill out the weaker part of the orchestral register). There are some interpretations that simply play the notes precisely as directed, as if the composer's strict construction made it into some sort of musical crossword puzzle. That certainly doesn't happen here. Without straying from Berg's marked dynamic instructions the performers and soloist still make the music a profound mixture of anger and regret. It had me weeping towards the end.
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I'm not a great fan of Berg - I much prefer Webern - but this is obviously a great performance. Fortunately the same applies to the Beethoven, beautifully played, accompanied and recorded. A very special recording by a very special artist. Don't even hesitate!
I've many recordings of the Beethoven in D - one of my old favourites. Isabelle is awesome! This is pretty close to perfect. I think the sound engineer really what he was doing as well - I'd have liked an option for FLAC download.