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Brahms & Joachim Violin Concertos
Joseph Joachim, Johannes Brahms, Carlos Kalmar
Brahms & Joachim Violin Concertos
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (3) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (5) - Disc #2


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CD Details

All Artists: Joseph Joachim, Johannes Brahms, Carlos Kalmar, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Rachel Barton Pine
Title: Brahms & Joachim Violin Concertos
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Cedille
Release Date: 5/27/2003
Genre: Classical
Styles: Forms & Genres, Concertos, Instruments, Strings, Symphonies
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 675754616526

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CD Reviews

Clean and note-perfect, but timid and unmusical.
Daniel | Oxford, England | 02/16/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)

"As to the merits of the repertoire being performed on this recording, I am content to defer to the assessments of the previous reviewers: the Brahms concerto is a classic and needs no introduction and the Joachim (arguably the better composer of the two) is a vastly underappreciated masterpiece. These two concerti are absolute necessities for any serious violin enthusiast. That said, Rachel Barton turns in highly disappointing performances. Ms. Barton is timid, slow and focused on technical perfection to the detriment of musicality -- for example, Perlman's "slow and majestic" first movement of Brahms (including the Joachim Cadenza) was 24 minutes and Ms. Barton weighs in at a little over 30 minutes for the first movement and cadenza -- there's slow (Perlman and Oistrakh) and then there's glacial. The Joachim has similar issues -- Barton is just too afraid to let loose on this one -- which is truly a pity as the combined talents of Barton, Carlos Kalmar and not least the CSO represented a unique opportunity to create an inspiring recording of the Joachim "hungarian" concerto. In conclusion, this recording justifiably (given the repertoire and musicians involved) received a lot of hype, but fails miserably in living up to that hype. If you need a recording of Joachim (and if you don't have one, believe me, you need one), Aaron Rosand and the Luxembourg Radio Orchestra turn in a vital and passionate performance that puts this record to shame. Similarly, if you're looking for Brahms, allow me to reccommend David Oistrakh or Natan Milstein (or for a more modern flair Hilary Hahn) -- Heifetz also cut a pretty good Brahms, but the usual Heifetz disclaimers apply. You can get the Rosand Joachim and Oistrakh Brahms for only 3 bucks more put together than the Barton and get quite a few other pieces from these two great violinists in the bargain. Rachel Barton is an amazing talent, the CSO is an amazing orchestra and the guys at Cedille Records do amazing recordings -- it really is a pity that they didn't create something amazing (or at least listenable)."
Four Stars for the Brahms, Five for the Joachim
M. C. Passarella | Lawrenceville, GA | 10/28/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Since four and a half stars is not an option, I will grudgingly give these recordings four stars. My reservations concern the Brahms, which is one of the most perfect works the composer ever wrote (though violinists gripe because it doesn't let them show off much). I recall reading program notes by a pretty good musician and scholar that even accorded the Violin Concerto the distinction of being the one great work by an otherwise second-rate composer! A minority opinion, certainly.

I find that in the first movement, with its meltingly beautiful second melody, the performers tend to overemphasize, slowing down and caressing the music more than they should. The melody doesn't need any special pleading. The tenderly lyrical opening is also taken rather slowly and lovingly--not a bad thing in itself, but given the emphatic treatment of that second tune, it's all a bit much. The slow movement, too, could use just a tad more forward thrust and less "luxuriating," but the playing here is certainly lovely.

The last movement has all the requisite Gypsy fire, and Rachel Barton plays with great verve and precision, so overall this is a fine performance, though it can't really compete with the very best on CD. On the other hand, the Chicago Symphony is in top form and very well recorded--as fine a bit of orchestral backing as you'll hear in the concerto probably.

I have nothing to compare the performance of the Joachim with, but I can't imagine a better reading of this slightly longwinded and wayward but ultimately appealing work. "Longwinded and wayward" mostly apply to the long, long (almost 27 minutes!) first movement. The second movement has Gypsy longing and lyricism, and the last movement, though not as memorable as the Brahms by half, sounds more like the genuine article. In fact, this Finale alla Zingara, "in the Gypsy style," inspired Brahms to write his popular Hungarian Dances. So Joachim's concerto ends on a strong note even if it doesn't have the stamp of genius that sets Brahms's concerto apart.

Joachim has been praised as a fine orchestrator, and that fact is in evidence here. But even more praised is the violin part--written, after all, by one of the greatest violinists of the 19th century. Though it eschews all display for display's sake, it is thoroughly idiomatic and, according to the notes to this recording, one of the most difficult violin parts in the repertory. Barton doesn't seem to have any problems; again, the playing is beautiful, seemingly effortless. The orchestral backup is first rate.

Because of the extraordinary length of the Joachim concerto, this is a double CD album offered at a single-CD price. As a bonus, the Brahms disc contains Barton's own cadenza to the Concerto first movement. It won't replace the standard Joachim cadenza, but it's an interesting bit of writing, not overly contemporary, not overly show-offish. It would work well in a concert performance of the piece.

So that's it: a very good Brahms performance, a probably definitive Joachim performance, all in fine modern sound."
Great Discovery
Gregory C. Dyer | Downingtown, PA USA | 07/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a great find if you want a wonderful, neglected masterpiece. Joachim was an excellent composer, though it is hyperbole to suggest he was the equal or better of Brahms as one reviewer here does. Regardless, the coupling of the Joachim with the Brahms concerto is a fitting one given the lengthy friendship of the two composers.

You can undoubtedly find a Brahms recording that suits your tastes more than Barton's if you have a particular predilection, so my rating applies primarily to the Joachim concerto (and for the price, the Brahms is icing on the cake). Joachim's is a long concerto of symphonic proportions and ambitions in which the soloist at long length dictates the ebb and flow, yet never overshadows the orchestra with unnecessary pyrotechnics. The themes are memorable, the architecture fascinating, and the first movement cadenza technically demanding and musical in the manner that Bach's chaccone is. The finale is a bit of a letdown in the sense that it stands alone from the other two movements in tone and temperment. However, one can't fault Joachim for finishing with a virtuouso flourish that's well conceived and orchestrated (and not at all uncharacteristic for a violin concerto of that time period in the first place).

Perhaps Barton isn't the ideal interpretter. Or perhaps she is. Until more soloists record this beast and enter the fray, she deserves the credit for taking a chance on an underperformed masterpiece. I doubt many listyeners will be disappointed by such an ambitious and committed effort."