Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Dvorak: Violin Concerto; Romance; Szymanowski: Violin Concerto
Magnificent Recording - Warm but spirited interpretations
Bruce Zeisel | Albany, NY United States | 11/18/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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