Sunday, 31 July 2005

After two hearings, I am highly impressed with Sergei Khachatryan playing the first Shostakovich violin concerto (Prom, 29 July). Yet another phenomenal violinist! Of course, the playing is impeccable. But there is an extraordinary absence of striving for effect or of point making, a total immersion in the music, a wide variety of vibrato, a dynamic range from pp to ff based on musical sense, a willingness to observe rests (viz, the cadenza to the Shostakovich concerto). The huge Albert Hall is pretty silent as if the audience were mesmerised (which it probably was). The control (and audience lack of even breathing) is also really noticeable in the Andante from the Bach second unaccompanied sonata played as an encore.
I was alerted to Khachatryan being something special by the off-air recording of the Beethoven violin concerto (sent to me by Akiko). But this Shostakovich really suggest that we have a violinist even "better" than Jansen, Fischer, Batiashvili, Repin ... or all the others. Superb! This really is a golden age of young violinists.

Sunday, 24 July 2005

Sunday, and the day of The Crab. Bought yesterday at Fishworks, and truly superb -- despite the price. A large crab is one of my favourite things ... as is Handel. Had a second Handel evening in a row, basking first in Patrizia Ciofi and Joyce di Donato in opera duets, ending up with Magdalena Kozena in two Italian cantatas. What is it about Handel? I just know that, along with the Beethoven string quartets, Handel's vocal music is something I shall always have to have within arm's length. Marvellous listening. And The Crab was marvellous eating.

Saturday, 23 July 2005

My birthday. Celebrated it by buying and eating a large Cornish brill (Fishworks, Bath). Actually, it was not outstanding, and no patch on plaice, lemon sole or Dover sole. Adequate, but not more. The cheese (Bath) was a lot better.
For music, as is becoming traditional for special occasions, it was George Frediric Haendel (opera arias, sung by Sandrine Piau). That, at least, was excellent.

Wednesday, 6 July 2005

Not often that, after 50 years of listening, one discovers a "new" composer. But (thanks to Carlos) I have been very attracted to the two violin and piano sonatas of Leo Weiner. And the two violin concertos are on their way to me, via Kentucky. Weiner writes well, and has some good tunes; a sort of Hungarian Vaughan Williams. Why his chamber works (along with those of Alkan) are not better known defies the imagination. It would make a good duo change from endless Brahms, Ravel and Debussy!
Like the CD of Lise de la Salle, my Weiner CD is one that I am reluctant to shelve in the main collection.

Saturday, 2 July 2005

Ye gods; yet another fine young violinist. A double CD featuring Liza Ferschtman reveals a young Dutch violinist in the same mould as Janine Jansen or Julia Fischer. Lithe, fleet of foot, technically on the ball, with an excellent palette of tone colours. The CDs feature sonatas by Franck, Debussy and Poulenc, plus pieces by Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich. A fine collection of Franco-Russian music played by an excellent Dutch violinist. Good pianist is Bas Verheijden and the Brilliant Classics recording features a good balance.