The Passion and Precision of Sibelius and Nielsen Flow from
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 01/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"That Esa-Pekka Salonen and Cho-Liang Lin have enjoyed a strong collaborative affinity over the past years is well known and their recordings never fail to satisfy, no matter the composer's works at hand. But this now restored recording of the fiendishly difficult Sibelius and Nielsen Violin Concerti with Salonen conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra of London and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra is once again proof that few musicians understand these works as well as the partnership of Salonen and Lin.
Lin's sumptuous, golden tone is never forced out of focus even in the most rapid sequences of the Sibelius. His intonation and phrasing are right in the middle of the target and his integration with the orchestral fabric is so natural that when exposed phrases emerge it is as though the entire string section is distilled into one instrument. The second movement is one of the most beautiful ever recorded, with Lin and Salonen bringing all the understated Nordic passion into full flower.
The Nielsen is rarely performed and the reasons are unclear, especially hearing the way the concerto works so well in these collaborators' hands. The performance is bracing and makes the most of Nielsen's extended melodic lines.
If there is a 'flaw' to be found, it is in the recorded sound of the orchestras. Whether that is due to the orchestras or to the engineers is unclear, though having just heard the LA Philharmonic with Hilary Hahn as the mesmerizing soloist leaves one thinking it is the former. The Sibelius in Disney Hall becomes a musical experience that rings through the spaces of the hall and the mind long after the final chord. Now that Salonen and the LA Phil are recording for DGG let's hope that he and Lin will again record these concerti in this ambience. Until that time, this amazingly affordable CD is a must for every collector. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, January 06
Much Needed Reissue
Michael B. Richman | Portland, Maine USA | 01/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD has been out since 2004, but only recently has it started selling here at Amazon. That is because when this new line of Sony "Great Performances" first came out, they were being offered exclusively through Tower Records, but now thankfully they are available anywhere fine music is sold (I sound like a commercial). There were a dozen or so initial "GP" titles and the majority of them have been previously available on CD at full price, and with this reissue are receiving their midline debut. And for this Sibelius/Nielsen VC CD that is very important as copies of its out-of-print predescesor were being sold at outrageous prices in the Amazon Marketplace. I won't go into specifics about these performances, other than to say they are brilliant, because there are some great commentaries posted with its previous incarnation. I'm still fuming mad at Sony for recently deleting so many of their best CDs, but at least they are continuing to make some classics available once again."
A strong collaboration that is of one mind
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 07/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Esa-Pekka Salonen and Cho-Liang Lin seem to think alike, as one immediately notices here. In both the Sibelius and Nielsen concertos the orchestral part runs along seamlessly with the soloist. It's rare for violin virtuosos to submit themselves to an equal partner, and perhaps Lin goes a bit too far. He has a big tone (especially as miked here) and a very direct way of expressing himself. I only wish he'd cut loose in the first movement of the Sibelius, or that in the finale his playing felt a little less controlled.
But those are quibbles. There's a lot to be thrilled by in these muscular, sometimes brash performances. As remastered, Sony's recorded sound for Lin is demonstration quality, adding a great deal to one's pleasure. The Nielsen is so well played that for years this CD was the front-runner, although Vengerov has managed to beat Lin out with extra passion and finesse. Even so, Lin has musical integrity and impeccable technique. The stronger personality here, I suspect, is Salonen, who is a first-rate Sibelian and turns the orchestral parts of both concertos into symphonic works."