Monday, 22 January 2007

Janine Jansen in Bruch and Mendelssohn

Old warhorses come back to life! I never thought I'd enjoy an evening listening again to such hackneyed works as Bruch's G minor violin concerto, and Mendelssohn's violin concerto. But in the hands of Janine Jansen on her new CD the works came over as fresh and spirited, and were both most enjoyable to listen to. Jansen's playing pleases me greatly; she is lithe, spirited and almost improvisatory. Her tone doesn't suffer from the high cholesterol dosage of many of her competitors.
Really, with the recent CDs of James Ehnes (Korngold, Barber and Walton), Julia Fischer (Glazunov, Khachaturian and Prokofiev), Leila Josefowicz (Shostakovich), Sergei Khachatryan (Shostakovich and Sibelius) and now Janine Jansen (Bruch and Mendelssohn) we live in great violinistic times. And, of course, there are others ...

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

I really thought my days of enjoying a performance of Beethoven's violin concerto were well and truly over; it has become just too familiar. But a performance by Igor Bezrodny (1963) had me listening to it twice. He plays too slowly in the opening movement, for my taste, and the work comes over as a high romantic composition from around 1850 rather than something from not much more than a decade after the death of Mozart. But Bezrodny (rather like Lisa Batiashvili) makes you accept his leisurely, lyrical view. The return of the main theme after the cadenza (played pianissimo) is exactly as I have always thought it should be. And what incredible, relaxed violin playing (a bit like Milstein). Goes into my top five Beethoven violin concertos.

Historical French Violinists

Someone sent me a CD "French Violinists" (homemade concoction) with various salon pieces played by Yvonne Astruc, René Benedetti, Jules Boucherit, Gabriel Bouillon, Miguel Candela, William Cantrelle , Jean Champeil, Roland Charmy, Renée Chemet, Yvonne Curti, Jeanne Gautier, Henri Merckel, Ginette Neveu, Denise Soriano, Jacques Thibaud. Sheer delight! Obviously the standard of playing varies but, what is important, is the way things vary. Nothing is predictable. A huge range of styles, colour, attack and sound palette. Obviously, in the days before tape and tape splicing one rarely achieved the pinpoint accuracy that is now prevalent in recordings. But I really enjoyed the variety on this CD; not the sort of variety of sound and approach you would achieve with, say, a compilation of Hilary Hahn, James Ehnes, Julia Fischer, et al.

Saturday, 6 January 2007

Marvelled yet again at Cortot, Thibaud and Casals in Schubert (1926) and Beethoven (1928) as I took delivery of a new EMI GROC transfer. The sound is perfectly acceptable! And the playing is, arguably, what chamber music should be about: talented friends enjoying playing and enjoying the music. In 2126 music lovers will still be marvelling.

Eat a kilo of moules marinière for dinner. Excellent beasts, except sauce was compromised because my sister June phoned just as I was cooking the shallots and garlic, and both burned. Moules marinière à la sauce brulée.

Monday, 1 January 2007

New Year's Eve was given over to Bruckner's Ninth Symphony. The 1944 performance by Furtwängler and the Berlin Philharmonic is little short of miraculous, both in performance and in sound. A good way to end 2006 that hasn't been a great year.