"What can be said about Midori that a fan doesn't already know ? Again, her unique, beautiful style is on display.I've listened to this Strauss Sonata many many times and I feel Midori has created a miracle on a CD. Such emotion, timbre, richness of tone... a violin can NOT sound better...I luv Midori..... !!"
A Walk in the Park
Lawrence B. Orcutt | Lancaster, California United States | 08/06/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Not to toot my own horn; I play four instruments for over forty years. So what? Don't just listen to the music. Listen to the notes. Midori miss a note? I rather doubt it. The orchestra may be taking a day off for a walk in the park; but, Midori's persisting drive brings them back time and time again. All of the artists seem to be a bit stiff in their presentation. It's noticeable if you listen. One never knows if their review will be implemented. Mine will always deal with the worlds of difference between hearing the work and listening. This reviewer is not concerned with Midori's ability to equal or surpass another's work. I am interested in what her presentation does for me on it's own merit. Frankly, I am surprised that she doesn't catch her instrument on fire much like the rubing of sticks together until the heat brings forth fire. Midori is fire."
haos | Wampopoon, Bostwalla | 11/01/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This CD is ample evidence of Midori's virtuosity, coupled with first-rate musicality. However, I have to disagree with one reviewer's assertion that she is non-pareil. Indeed, her Ernst is not perfect, though it comes very close. Careful listening will pick up slight intonation errors.Ricci performed with more facility. It is utterly ridiculous to place her above Heifetz, or even Perlman. And it is even more ridiculous to suggest that those two violinists were afraid to record the Ernst. Midori is great, but not as great as Heifetz or Perlman or Ricci."
Discophage | France | 03/21/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Let me add just a partial comment to the other reviewers' posts. I bought this disc in the context of a comparative survey of Strauss' Violin Sonata. Midori and McDonald turn out a superb reading, maybe the best I've heard so far. They have the perfect grasp of the work's sprawling and elusive architecture and they manage the transitions just right. Their first movement is overall significantly broader than Chung's and Zimmermann's (10:57 against 10:40, Strauss: Sonata For Violin and Piano/Respighi:Sonata For Violin and Piano) and close to the second to Oliveira's and Ponce's (Elmar Oliveira plays Brahms, Strauss, Sarasate and others), but that is somewhat deceptive: section by section, they are more intense in the introductory statement than these, avoiding the sense of swooning languidness that Chung elicits, and then, when the appassionato sets it (at 1:19, against Chung's and Oliveira's 1:24) they really let out all the lyrical juices. Yet, while she has some of the intensity of Heifetz, Midori avoids the curious jauntiness of his phrasings (in his two later recordings, 1954 Brahms: Trio, Op.8/Dohnányi: Serenade, Op.10/Strauss: Sonata, Op.18 and 1972 Heifetz Collection, Vol. 46: The Final Recital). She also has superb nuancing, and her control of dynamics is impressive. I might have found her initial tempo in the second movement "Improvisation" a tad too slow (it is written "Andante cantevole", not adagio), but (unlike Heifetz in his first recording from 1934, at a very similar tempo: Heifetz Plays Strauss (Violin Sonata op. 18), Sibelius (Violin Concerto), Prokofiev (Violin Concerto 2) or Heifetz Collection, Vol. 2 (1925-1934) (3 CDs)) her phrasing avoids any sense of wailing sentimentality and again her willingness and ability to play beautifully hushed pianissimos work to great effect. She and McDonald finely animate the middle section (3:00), lending it an appropriate dark color and a great dramatic character, and her final section (3:58) is, like Chung's and Zimmermann's, wonderfully subtle and watery. It is Ruggiero Ricci's historic recording from 1950 that their finale comes closest to - but with none of the harsh sonic that make that recording a none too pleasant listening experience (Decca Recordings, 1950-1960 (Limited Edition)). They are passionate, intensely lyrical and have a fine sense of the long singing line - and, fortunately, unlike Heifetz and Chung, they do not practice the 42 bar "Heifetz" cut. Only their coda "a tempo piu vivo" could have been oh so slightly more animated, I think, but that's really nitpicking.
Robert McDonald - a winner of the Gold Medal at the Busoni Piano Competition - is no mere accompanist - he is present as an equal partner, finely dialoguing and never overpowering, and always alert to Strauss' inner voicing.
Unlike some of the previous reviewers I'm not so enthusiastic with Midori's Ravel. In the introductory cadenza I find that she fusses too much over details and looses some of the music's snap along the way - trying to make the Big Statement isn't always amicable to music, and Ravel's Tzigane isn't Bach's Chaconne. She's not always precise rhythmically either, and conveying the Gipsy character doesn't necessarily require playing accordion with the tempo. But things do get better with the entrance of the piano, and she plays the second part with fine tone and a winning mixture of élan and schmaltz, even adding (at 9:02) a Rossinian "sul ponticello" effect not written by Ravel - it sounds great, and he should have written it.
The score to Ernst's "Last Rose of Summer" Variations is available on the net for free download, and, like some of the previous reviewers hinted, it is even more awesome to look at than to hear. Kremer (but, true, in studio) plays it with more elan and charm (Paganini: Virtuoso Violin Music), and his 8:15 to Midori's 9:23 has little to do with the fact that he cuts four bars. Still it is an impressive feat to have attempted it (and pulled it off) in concert.
There are audience and other extraneous noises (pages turning, pianist humming), but nothing that I find obtrusive, except for the coughs in the introductory cadenza of Ravel's Tzigane. On the contrary, it conveys the sense of the live concert sharing experience, rather than of the cold studio. "