Monday, 28 November 2005

I haven't paid much attention to Philippe Graffin in the past, but his new CD really is extremely well-played, enjoyable, and well-planned. Enescu's Impressions d'enfance, Ravel's Sonate posthume and Tzigane, Debussy's sonata plus four arrangements. Excellent partner is Claire Désert (who plays the lutheral in the Tzigane).
What is nice is that Graffin does not strive for effect, or to impress. He just plays the music with skill and enjoyment. Even the oh-so hackneyed Tzigane is enjoyable. His sweet tone reminds me of Arthur Grumiaux. A good CD.

Sunday, 27 November 2005

Another Sunday with Handel; this time three hours of Ramadisto with my current favoured combination of Patrizia Ciofi and Joyce DiDonato. What a pleasant way to spend three hours! Handel never fails (at least when this kind of music is sung like this and recorded so well). Happy afternoon !

Tuesday, 15 November 2005

Nice to find a new favourite work. I have been listening often to Albéric Magnard's sonata for violin and piano (played by Augustin Dumay and Jean-Philippe Collard). Weighing in at 43 minutes, it's not a work that yields its fascination quickly or easily. But it certainly repays repeated hearings (unlike, say, the wretched Berg Violin Concerto!) The more I hear it, the more I discover and enjoy.
The performance by Dumay and Collard strikes me as pretty well ideal; it can't be an easy work to play, since to keep interest flowing over the 43 minutes requires a wide range of subtle sound gradations and of colouring.

Friday, 4 November 2005

Two hours yesterday evening spent listening to Mela Tenenbaum playing 40 short pieces. Ms Tenenbaum plays adroitly, swiftly and highly efficiently. The 40 pieces could almost all have come from Elman or Heifetz recitals in the 1930s. But why did violinists such as Kreisler, Elman, Heifetz and Szigeti play them so much better? I suspect the answer is: love. Either they really loved the music they were playing (think of Kreisler), or they really loved the violin (think of Kogan digging deep into Paganini's Cantabile and obviously relishing the sound of his violin; Ms Tenenbaum dispatches the same piece swiftly, beautifully and efficiently).
Remarkably efficient playing from Ms Tenenbaum. But not much love or charm. Sounds a bit as if someone told her: "We'll pay you $100 a-piece for 40 pieces. And don't hang about, Mela; time is money".