Sunday, 18 July 2004

As a long time follower of James Ehnes, it was good to find a new recording from him that I really enjoyed. Usually, he has impressed with his incredible and effortless technique, but there has often been something missing, for me. His new Smetana / Dvorak / Janacek CD is superb, however. The music moves; no lovingly stretched out sections that bog things down. Ehnes has an excellent and appropriately wide dynamic range for this music, and there are plenty of nuances of colour. The phrasing is usually excellent, though I might query the fourth of the Dvorak Four Romantic Pieces. Although his playing of these four pieces doesn't quite pip Akiko Suwanai, his version is right up there with hers. And his Janacek sonata is also good.

Sunday, 11 July 2004

Kippers, koftas and Château de Belle-Coste rosé. Not bad. Then Camilla Wicks in Wieniawski, Ravel and Kreisler, plus Oistrakh and Haitink in the Prokofiev first violin concerto, a CD rescued from the anonymous morgue. Listened to the new off-air recording of Vadim Repin playing the Tchaikovsky violin concerto (yet again -- LSO, Rostropovich). A typical good recording. Listened to Albert Spalding in 1948 playing -- carefully -- Bach, Corelli, Chausson, etc. Neat, careful, immaculate. I can't help feeling that Spalding's main claim to fame was that he was the first American to be able to play the violin. Good fruit season -- rasberries, pineapple, apricots, peaches. My pile of "to be listened to" CDs is shaming me. Time for a little brutality.

Thursday, 8 July 2004

Listened yesterday evening to Benjamin Britten's violin concerto and was most surprised to find myself really enjoying it. I already have one recording (Bronislaw Gimpel) but don't remember being impressed. However, the off-air performance by Janine Jansen really caught my attention. After one (remembered) hearing, I certainly rate it above the Walton concerto. Good to find a new concerto! And unlike so many 20th century concertos, at 30 minutes it does not outstay its welcome nor stretch its material too far. I look forward to a second hearing this evening.