Wednesday, 24 November 2004

Thanks to buying a new biography of him, I am re-discovering Christian Ferras. One of the advantages of having a back-collection of recordings ! I have listened with very great enjoyment to his playing of the Tchaikovsky violin concerto (with Silvestri) and of the Lekeu sonata (with Pierre Barbizet). There is a luminosity about Ferras's playing, and the sound has an incredible inner life. Like Heifetz (whom he does not resemble) Ferras's sound is never monotone but is replete with a myriad of colours and nuances. In inner intensity, his playing often brings to mind George Enescu. I have a little pile of Ferras CDs all ready for a re-listen, and greatly look forward to it. A bit of a mystery why, outside France and a few violin afficionados, Ferras is mainly either forgotten or unknown. A superb violinist and musician.

Tuesday, 2 November 2004

New CD from Akiko Suwanai; she does not disappoint. Eight pieces: Saint-Saens, Berlioz, Ravel, Lalo and Chausson, with two Kreisler pieces. Philharmonia conducted by Dutoit. Ms Suwanai makes you think of Nathan Milstein; suave, alert, intelligent and never living off the (superb) sound of her Strad violin, but concentrating on the music, and the playing. Each of the eight pieces is among the "best in class". Perhaps only the Tzigane disappoints slightly by sounding as if Akiko has never met a real gypsy in her life. But it's a mild criticism amidst 75 minutes of exemplary and cultivated violin playing. In Saint-Saens one thinks of Heifetz. In Chausson, Enescu. In Kreisler and Ravel, Milstein. Praise indeed.