Friday, 14 May 2004

Hurrah for Katrin Scholz ! I first discovered her by serendipitous accident, picking up her CD of Spanish Dance while browsing in Bath Compact Discs (bought entirely on the fact that the CD contained lots of Sarasate). That CD gave me a lot of pleasure, as has the second that arrived this week: Martinu (second concerto) and Saint-Saens (third concerto). Good back-up is from Hamburger Symphoniker under Sebastian Lang-Lessing. I can't say that Martinu's concerto doesn't really deserve its neglect; it is thematically very weak and something of a pastiche. But Stolz does the best that can be done for it. I like the way she is a violinist who doesn't linger -- albeit she and Lang-Lessing do drag out the chorale theme in the finale of the Saint-Saens, to the detriment of structure and attention. But Stolz plays with considerable virtuosity throughout; in particular, she has a curious way of emphasising the rhythm when she is playing (something that stood her in good stead in Spanish Dance). I shall buy more Stolz, if I can. She doesn't record much. However, she and Gleusteen do underline the fact that it really isn't necessary to hunt for "star" names when it comes to buying good performances. Of course, star names are "brands" that assure quality; or not. One is often better off buying Gleusteen, Batiashvili -- or Katrin Stolz.

Monday, 10 May 2004

Rummaging around putting CDs away, I came across Paul Lewis's CD of the two last Schubert piano sonatas (A major and B flat major). I ended up listening to both, since there is something about later Schubert and its ever-changing moods that is most attractive. Enjoyed the A major this time round. Lewis's playing of D 960 is OK, but it does sound too thought-out and lacks spontaneity. Ideally, such restless harmonies, key and metre changes demand a feeling of improvisation. And we don't get this from Paul Lewis, nicely as he plays. I really like Richter in this music.

Sunday, 9 May 2004

After enjoying the first CD of Kai Gleusteen and Catherine Ordronneau (Avie 0023 with the Janacek and first Prokofiev sonatas, plus Shostakovich Preludes) it was good to find their second CD (Avie 0037) where they play the Franck Sonata, Dvorak Sonatina, plus the third Grieg sonata. They play as a true duo, and the tempi all seem to be well chosen (well flowing and not erring on the slow side, as so often today). There are better recordings of each work to be had; but these two CDs make a handy mini-collection of two hours of highly enjoyable violin & piano music, well played and well recorded. What is particularly welcome is the absence of evidence of studio playing; the playing sounds as if it were for real.