Monday, 27 November 2006

Most impressed with Claude and Pamela Frank in the complete Beethoven violin & piano sonatas this weekend (Music & Arts). First-class piano playing, first-class violin playing, an ideal balance between the two instruments, and partnership music-making with no dominance and no competition. I cannot think why Pamela Frank hasn't had greater success.

Saturday, 11 November 2006

Typical music, this evening. I started with the first CD in the 10-CD box of Leonid Kogan's Russian performances. Kogan was one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century though, much like Arthur Grumiaux, he occasions little hyperbole. Then on with Handel: his opera Radamisto. The singing is glorious, with Joyce DiDonato, Patrizia Ciofi and -- a new discovery -- Maite Beaumont. One cannot help feeling that much of the opera was written on autopilot, and Handel brings fewer "hits" out of the hat than often. Still, an enjoyable way to pass three hours of an evening.

Saturday, 4 November 2006

A very big Huzzah! for Sergey Khachatryan playing the Shostakovich first violin concerto (with the Orchestre National de France under Kurt Masur). This concerto has known many fine performers, starting with Oistrakh and Kogan and including, recently, Vengerov, Repin, Sarah Chang and -- especially -- Leila Josefowicz. But, I suspect, Khachatryan is the greatest recorded performance yet. The fluency of his playing recalls Milstein; the purity of his double stops recall Vasa Prihoda. At 20 years old, he plays with an accuracy and a passion that sweep all before him. A really notable new recording; makes buying multiple, multiple versions of the same work somehow worthwhile.

Day completed by my greatest ox tongue yet; I fell asleep while it was cooking, so it boiled for a full six hours before I woke. But no matter; it absorbed the various herbs even better and it is now an ox tongue to die for. Ox tongue and Sergey Khachatryan; what a weekend!

Thursday, 2 November 2006

Back after a long absence. Just to record how much I continue to enjoy the playing of Janine Jansen. Recorded her off-air in the Brahms third sonata and Dvorak F minor romance (with hard-hitting Itamar Golan a bit less overbearing than usual). An editing gaff meant I lost the accompanying Grieg second sonata. One has to admire the energy Jansen puts into her playing; she always sounds on the edge, ever relaxed and laid-back. Good to listen to. And, of course, she plays incredibly well and sounds good, too.