Sunday, 21 May 2006

A last listen before shelving to Irina Muresanu (violin) and Dana Ciocarlie (piano) playing the sonatas of Lekeu and Magnard. 70 minutes of lovely music and gentle melancholy. Pretty bad that these two sonatas aren't aired more often, instead of hour after hour of the sonatas of Franck, Ravel, Beethoven, Brahms and a few others.

The performances are not ideal and no way displace Ferras (Lekeu) or Dumay (Magnard). There is more than a touch of Emanuel Bay to the playing of the pianist, and one's ear stays pretty much with the violinist all the time. It would be good to hear these works played by Berezovzky and Repin, or Akiko Suwanai and Paul Crossley, for example. However, the two works make an ideal coupling here.

Saturday, 20 May 2006

Much pleasure from a CD from de Haas: Steven Staryk (solo violin) playing études-caprices by Kreutzer, Fiorillo, Dont, Paganini, Wieniawski, Sevcik, Mazas, Dancla, Rode, Locatelli, et al. 34 pieces on the CD, and not much lasts longer than two minutes. But a veritable feast of attractive music (and violin playing) for violin lovers. Much enjoyment.

Also recorded Leonidas Kavakos playing the Brahms Violin Concerto (Andrew Davies and BBC SO). Predictably good, but I am really played out with the Brahms concerto, after 50 years of frequent listening (starting with Oistrakh and Saxon orchestra under Konwitschny in around 1956). Kavakos is a very fine violinist; I just wish these very fine violinists would be allowed to play something else, from time to time (such as, the études-caprices of Wieniawski, Fiorillo, Dont, etc).

All was not lost; at the market in Tetbury on Wednesday I bought what was probably the best crab of my life. What a magnificent beast! Hopefully, the first of many from the same source.

Monday, 15 May 2006

Evergreens. I enjoyed Rachmaninov's second piano concerto played by Boris Berezovsky (Urals Philharmonic). Boris's playing has always appealed to me; it's strong and fluent, but also sensitive and intelligent. He doesn't storm the barn in Rach 2, but lets the music speak for itself (never a bad thing to do in emotion-charged Russian pieces). It comes over similar to Rachmaninov's own performance. No higher praise.

I also much enjoyed Philippe Graffin's recording of the Elgar violin concerto (coupled, very appositely, with Chausson's Poème). Again, no nonsense from Graffin, no wallowing, no meandering; the Elgar concerto doesn't need it. A lucky concerto on disc, and Graffin's is one of the best. Nice to find so many younger violinists keeping the piece in the repertoire (Isabelle van Keulen and Hilary Hahn, recently).