Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Maurice Ravel, Antonio Pappano, Maxim Vengerov|
Lalo: Symphonie Espagnole; Saint-Saens: Violin Concerto; Ravel: Tzigane; Maxim Vengerov
Maxim Vengerov's virtuosity is so spectacular, his tonal palette so varied, that even those who normally don't go for the colorful showpieces recorded here might be won over. His technique is secure enough for us not to no... more »
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Maxim Vengerov's virtuosity is so spectacular, his tonal palette so varied, that even those who normally don't go for the colorful showpieces recorded here might be won over. His technique is secure enough for us not to notice it--we're never distracted from the music--and while the razzle-dazzle inherent in each of these pieces continue to amaze, it's the effect of the work itself we're left with. Even with Ravel's Tzigane, here certainly receiving one of the most forceful performances ever, it's the evocation of Gypsy abandon that remains in the forefront. The Lalo is pure electricity, with the glowing malaguena and seguidilla and vigorous Habanera almost inviting us to dance, and Pappano and the Philharmonia have just the right surge to keep the entire performance solid. The Saint-Saëns Third Violin Concerto is a wonderful work (the most substantial on the disc), with its combination of two zippy, showy movements sandwiching an andantino of sheer loveliness, and Vengerov's playing is stunning. The outer movements are so full of energy that the oasis in the center is positively heavenly. These may not be the best readings of these works available, but there's not a misplaced note, a moment to take issue with, or a dull spot. If this was Vengerov's only recording, he would forever be known as a great violinist. --Robert Levine
Drama, virtuosity and sweetness from Vengerov and Pappano
Joy Fleisig | New York, NY United States | 02/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Edouard Lalo's 'Symphonie Espagnole' and Camille Saint-Saens' Violin Concerto #3 were comissioned by violin virtuoso and composer Pablo Sarasate, known for the beauty and sweetness of his tone, the ease with which he played even the highest notes on his instrument, and his stunning technique. Since the great young Russian violinist Maxim Vengerov not only shares these qualities, but adds to them both heart and superb imagination, he is an obvious choice to record these French masterpieces. However, largely because I am well aware of just how much competition Vengerov has from just about every other great violinist who ever lived and recorded, I have balked at buying many of his CDs, especially of very standard works, because I wanted to 'shop around' to find my favorite renditions and not have the many duplicates I do of operas and operatic recitals. I'm sure many classical music lovers have the same problem. Vengerov's jaw-dropping Britten/Walton album earlier this year, however, made me decide to at least listen to, if not actually buy, every CD he records in the future, and if necessary replace them if I like another violinist's rendition better. The other major factor in my decision to buy this CD was my eagerness to hear the great Antonio Pappano conduct purely orchestral as opposed to the operatic and vocal repertory he is more famous for. The partnership of these two brilliant, passionate and charismatic artists was just too good an opportunity to pass up.And it truly is a partnership. In this expressive, dramatic, perhaps truly `operatic' music, Pappano proves to be just as supportive to instrumental soloists as he is to singers; he and the Philharmonia hang on Vengerov's every note. Considering just how many liberties a violinist can take in these works, that can't have been easy! As usual, Pappano is superb in building tension to dramatic climaxes and giving the music real punch and elan. Even more importantly, one of Pappano's specialties is coaxing gorgeous, radiant sound from orchestral strings sections (most noticeable here in the Saint-Saens) - all the more extraordinary considering he is a pianist and not a violinist! Vengerov indicated in recent interviews that he and the conductor have formed a very ardent mutual admiration society, and this is obvious listening to this album. Throughout the program, Vengerov plays a 1727 Stradivarius that belonged to the legendary violinist Rodolphe Kreutzer (of Beethoven's `Kreutzer Sonata' fame), and he is more than worthy of this magical instrument. Best of all, it is clear that he is having a very good time! Vengerov has played these pieces from his early childhood and as he says in his booklet essay, they evoke strong feelings of nostalgia in him. They also clearly inspire his imagination, his expressivity, and his strong sense of drama. In the 'Symphonie Espagnole', the violinist becomes a swaggering toreador in the first movement, a sprightly and good-humored seducer in the second, a strong, passionate dancer in the third and a serious, sad man (perhaps in mourning?) in the fourth. The famous final Rondo movement is a triumph of joy and energy, and note also the way Pappano handles the crescendo and decrescendo at its start. The highlight of the disc, however, is the second movement of the Saint-Saens. This is Vengerov's favorite part of the concerto and he is absolutely sublime, making his violin sing with such purity and sweetness that one may cry. I am reminded of the Largo from the Bach Double Violin Concerto; as Vengerov gets higher and higher and softer and softer, it is as if one is ascending to some higher, ecstatic dimension (as he puts it, 'the music melts little by little, taking us to other planets, stars, spheres'). The contrastingly zingy outer movements of the concerto are played with equal aplomb. Maurice Ravel wrote 'Tzigane' for the Hungarian violinist Jelly D'Aranyi, who inspired him by her spectacular playing of Gypsy melodies at a party. It is intended as a showpiece and Vengerov more than delivers. From the long, spare, and incredibly difficult solo cadenza (the orchestra doesn't come in for almost four minutes) to the bewildering pyrotechnics that conclude the piece, this Russian violinist obviously feels a strong kinship with the Gypsies this piece evokes, and so does his Italian-British-American conductor.EMI's sound engineering is at its usual high standard, although some may complain that the violinist is placed too far forward. In addition to Vengerov's comments, the documentation also consists of a fine essay on the three works by Robert Orledge (both in English, French, and German), and portraits of all the composers. It is a pity that EMI provides no biographies of either Vengerov or Pappano. I am not the expert on violinists and violin repertory that I am the human voice, so unlike some who may review this disc, I cannot say with any degree of authority whether or not it is 'the best'. Nevertheless, Vengerov's (and Pappano's!) renditions of the works recorded here are so superb that they are a perfect introduction for listeners new to the works or those who want them in modern sound, and I imagine that even many who collect violin recordings will find little to fault about them."
Splendid Lalo et al. from Vengerov and Pappano
John Kwok | New York, NY USA | 11/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have hesitated acquiring this CD since I own already a spellbinding account of Lalo's "Symphonie Espagnole" performed by Vadim Repin with Kent Nagano conducting the London Symphony Orchestra. But frankly, once again, Vengerov's performance of this piece and of the others, is the one to acquire. All three have very demanding solo passages, which Vengerov handles adroitly, with ample warmth and polish. I was stunned with how well he plays all three works, which are among the most difficult I have heard for a solo violin accompanied by an orchestra. Somehow this young Siberian manages to play all with more than a hint of Gypsy soul, as though he was familiar with the traditional Gypsy melodies which inspired undoubtedly Lalo, Saint-Saens, and especially, Ravel, in composing these works. Vengerov's riveting performances of all three works is accompanied by superb playing from the Philharmonia Orchestra under the baton of Italian-American conductor Antonio Pappano. Without question, this is yet another exceptional CD from Vengerov which should please his fans and other admirers."
Promising but soloist doesn't stand up to his own hype
concertlover | New York City | 01/09/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I ordered this CD for my dad at his request, solely for the Saint-Saens Violin Concerto, which turned ut to be in three parts. The middle section of 1-2 minutes was indeed interesting, but the other two showed a lack of virtuosity and a lackluster interpretation that was underlined even more in the Lalo and Ravel solo standards. Vengarov MIGHT show promise, but I think the particular section that caught my dad's ear was him at his best, and it just isn't enough to hold together even that particular piece. And the other two major pieces were, frankly, disappointing in quality of the musicianship. Vengarov's looks may bring him fandom among the young and European, but my dad was disappointed and I was underwhelmed. I wanted to return the CD, but it would have made dad feel more badly, since it was "his" first Amazon purchase and his choice. Give him another 20 years. We'll give it away. Also, there are many other stellar violinists out there who are going to stand the test of time much better; they're his age, more or elss, and have undeniably possess and use the full range of gifts and training.Chun Hee, and even Joshua Bell (of whom I've never been a fan) for example. But to me, no one compares to Perlman and others who have created universal, eternal history. They set an unimaginable standard that leaves Vengarov firmly on the pavement--and in this CD, flat on his feet. I should have known by the "stardard" list of contents."