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Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1; Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 1
Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergey Prokofiev, Sarah Chang
Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1; Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 1
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (7) - Disc #1

Sarah Chang's new CD of two of the most flavorful Violin Concerti to come out of 20th-century Russia is a winner. The first movement of the Shostakovich finds Chang playing, at first, with no vibrato, and the effect is hau...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergey Prokofiev, Sarah Chang, Simon Rattle, Berlin Philharmonic
Title: Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 1; Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 1
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: EMI Classics
Original Release Date: 1/1/2006
Re-Release Date: 3/7/2006
Genre: Classical
Styles: Chamber Music, Forms & Genres, Concertos, Historical Periods, Classical (c.1770-1830), Instruments, Strings
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 094634605328

Sarah Chang's new CD of two of the most flavorful Violin Concerti to come out of 20th-century Russia is a winner. The first movement of the Shostakovich finds Chang playing, at first, with no vibrato, and the effect is haunting and as properly spooky as the composer wanted. Her many levels of both dynamics and vibrato are very much on display throughout, and in the Scherzo, she builds to a wonderfully maniacal climax. The Passacaglia is played with ease, its cadenza beginning at a snail's pace but picking up speed as it goes along, and she plays it all with a powerful arm. The Burlesque is a complete tour de force, whipped through at such a fast tempo that the listener wonders if Chang will be able to keep it up: she does. The Prokofiev Concerto is a lyrical work, and Chang underscores the fine melodies in the first and last movements with grace. She doesn't forget the work's demonic side either, and the Scherzo sounds really crazy. Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic are closer to partners than accompaniment, and they have no trouble keeping up with Chang. A thrilling release. --Robert Levine

CD Reviews

Sarah Chang Delivers Yet Again!
Patrick | Hawaii | 03/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In light of Shostakovich's 100th anniversary of his birth, Chang has put out a new album coupling the ever-so emotional Shostakovich Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor with the ever-so colorful Prokofiev Violin Concerto No.1 in D recording in live concerts. These two concertos are gems on their own, but when added with Chang's extrodinary showmanship, these two stand as amazing classic concertos themselves.

Although the big warhorse concertos such as the Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Beethoven violin concertos have been mainstream violin concertos and performed over 200 times a year, recent light has been shed on the concertos that of Dvorak, Goldmark, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and Strauss. These "2nd-tier" concertos have not been performed all that regularly, and finding a great recording is very rare. Violinists of today have been focusing on these concertos to bring back the value and integrity that these composers have obtained over the years. Artists as well as Chang include Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn, Maxim Vengerov, Midori, and Gil Shaham have all contributed to this new line of repretoire.

In the Shostakovich's violin concerto, Chang puts on a wonderful performance that showcases her spell-biding technique and haunting musicianship. In the opening Nocturne, the cello section of the Berlin Philharmonic set a very eerie tone from the beginning leading to Chang's opening A note which comes through in a very haunting and dark shade. This is close to the tone that David Oistrakh used in the premiere of this violin concerto, and Sarah has, I believe, pushed that level of darkness and sorrow to a whole new level. She does not use vibrato until the fifth note of the whole concerto, b-flat, to extend that level of eeriness that one must achieve when performing this work. Chang's interpretation of Nocturne follows that of David Oistrakh, but still has the signiture Chang stamp that she puts on all of her repertoire: her dark tones of the G, D, A strings contrasting with her bright E string and her use of 10 different vibrato speeds. Chang achieves a level of emotion that I have not heard in other recordings. She has interpreted this piece of music with the emotions of the heart, and you can virtually hear her violin crying with the sorrowful melodies. She performs the Nocturn with emotions that pull at your heart and leave you mesmorized.

In the Scherzo, Chang starts off with a similar tempo to that of David Oistrakh with a similar bow length and bow speed. Keeping in company of Shostakovich's own interpretations of his concerto, Chang proceeds to the open run with great ease, and not so much "crunch" as you would hear in the Perlman version. What can you say about this movement? She plays it with extrodinary technique. After the first two minutes, the tempo starts to pick up and you hear an ever so crystal-clear violinist who attacks each note with ease. Her scherzo is wonderful and when reaching the final minute and a half (where the violinist comes in with the A-A, A-F# notes), she blasts into over-gear as the tempo increases to a breath-taking new plateu. The movement then ends with a very in-synch orchestra and Chang.

In the very daunting Passacaglia the Berlin Philharmonic gives a very wonderful taste to how Shostakovich's inspirations for his works were, (WWII as well as the fight between the U.S.S.R.'s control of all music). This leads to Chang's opening c note in which you hear three different speeds of vibrato in one note. She then proceeds to further this expression with her slides and contrasting tones. Chang imprints each note into the audience's mind with great ease and superb intonation. (Her octaves are just wonderful!).

In the very demanding cadenza, Sarah oppens with a tempo slower than that of Oistrakh, and although this slow tempo is very different from all other interpretations we have heard, it works. Chang uses this tempo to let each note ring and make her statement. This portion of the cadenza is not only critical in this concerto, it is also one of the most demanding cadenzas ever written. As she goes through the cadenza, she picks up lighting fast speed during her chord repetitions in which she powers through with similarities to Oistrakh and Perlman. She then ends the cadenza with the ever-so difficult run of sixteenth notes (where she plays them at quick tempo that i have ever heard before) leading to the final chromatic slides of fifths and then octaves.

The fourth, and final, movement, Burlesque, is so wonderfully done that no one compares with Chang in my opinion. Although Oistrakh did perform this in the eyes of Shostakovich, Chang sheds a new light on how this movement should be played, and it has definetely won me over. She ends the last page starting with the fastest tempo I have ever heard this concerto play in. She then goes into the final run with tremendous tempo speed and lighting-quick bowing. While she's doing her passage, the Berlin Philarhmonic supports her throughout and ends on such an amazing high. With the ringing sounds of the last note, one wonders how Chang could have pulled this off so brilliantly and wonderfully.

The Berlin Philharmonic and Simon Rattle provide an excellent support system in this concerto which also demands an excruciating high level of orchestral accompianment, but in Shostakovich's case, I believe he should have named this concerto the Violin AND Orchestra concerto in A minor, because the orchestral part is just as beautiful and mesmorizing.

This recording stands as one of the best all-time recordings I have ever listened to...and I mean it with all of my heart. Although Chang has been criticized of some lacking emotion in certain Romantic Concertos, she has definetely won me over with this interpretation. It is as if Chang was born to play this work...or Shostakovich composed this piece just for any case, she has definetely provided a new interpretation and recording of one of the most demanding/beautiful works ever written.

When compared to other recordings of this concerto, I would definetely put this on the same plateu as Oistrakh's. (Hahn's version lacks that certain ominous/emotion quality needed to pull this off & Perlman's version strays very far from what Shostakovich had intended [look at Oistrakh for an example])

This is a must-buy for any classical-musician. You will not be dissapointed.

(Review of her Prokofiev concerto coming up!)"
Another Superb Performance
Marco Benden | USA | 07/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This recording is absolutely stunning and reveals a most talented artist. I compare it to her unmatched Sibelius CD. I have not listened to many Shostakovitch #1, however I listened to many Sibelius concertos and I must say that her Sibelius is the best I ever heard. This Shostakovitch, Prokofiev CD in my view is on the same difficulty and virtuoso level as her Sibelius performance which puts the performance on this CD at the very top. I listened to this CD over 25 times so far, keep playing it over and can't seem to get tired of it. Each time I play it, I appreciate it even more. If you liked her Sibelius you'll appreciate this CD very much. Hope the talented Sarah Chang continue to deliver similar outstanding performances in the future."
Sarah Chang: Beauty of Presence, Deportment and Musicality
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 12/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Sarah Chang walks out onto a concert stage and the audience gasps. Not only is she a stunning figure with wholly committed stage deportment, she is one of the rare artists so involved with the music she is offering that she feels compelled to turn to the first violin section and play along with them in the extended orchestral tutti setting the stage for her entrances. The orchestra loves her, the conductors love her, the audience loves her and the composers surely would love her.

This exciting CD features Chang in two invigorating works that she is making her own - the first violin concerti of both Shostakovich and Prokofiev. Her tone is huge, her technique is pliant and in keeping with the composer's specific instructions, and the result as displayed on this very beautiful collaboration with the Berlin Philharmonic as conducted by Simon Rattle is a pair of performances will be difficult to imitate.

Chang seems to be visiting the entire violin concerto repertoire and she is equally at home in the Romantic works as she is in the contemporary works. Chang is at the beginning of a remarkable career and we can only expect more great recordings from this unique young beauty. Grady Harp, December 06"