Sunday, 26 August 2007

Bit of a surprise weekend. Shows that, after over 50 years, there are still interesting discoveries to be made. First discovery was Michèle Auclair (in Mozart, Brahms, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky concertos). An "old-fashioned" violinist (and none the worse for that). A bit like a French Mischa Elman in her spurning of "fashion"; the most un-Russian Tchaikovsky violin concerto I have ever heard. Very French playing, very deliberate, some good portamento, very dedicated. Only pity is the second-rate orchestras and conductors, and the so-so recorded sound from 1958-62. But a violinist to remember, and one with an instantly recognisable style.

Second surprise was Vivaldi arias, sung by Philippe Jaroussky. It is a CD I bought for Jean Girard but didn't listen to. This copy arrived (with the three Auclair CDs) from Zhao in China. Lovely music! I must investigate Vivaldi's vocal music; quite as good as Handel (on the strength of this CD and one by Sandrine Piau).

Weekend was completed with a bottle of Monsieur Bachelet's Saint-Aubin premier cru "Les Cortons" 1998. That is some wine!

Friday, 17 August 2007

Surprised to find I liked Lola Bobescu's performance of the fifth Vieuxtemps concerto (1963, with Karl Böhm in Cologne). After hearing the Heifetz reincarnation last week, I thought that was it and that no one else could ever be listened to again in this work. But Lola does it good.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

At last I have heard Schnabel in the Beethoven Diabelli variations (Mark Obert-Thorn transfer for Naxos). Truly excellent, and my kind of playing ... same sort of school as Backhaus, my réfèrence since the 1950s. No nonsense; just Beethoven as written. What weird music this is, in places! Quite mad, in some respects (particularly for the 1820s).

Also, thanks to David Gomberg, I caught up again with Lisa Batiashvili in 2007 (off-air). Shostakovich first violin concerto (with Sakari Oramo, in New York) and the Prokofiev second concerto (with a rather flat-footed Charles Dutoit in Dresden). Lots of portamento for someone of her generation. Her sound reminds me of Michael Rabin; her rapt concentration -- always a trait of her playing -- of Sviatislav Richter. Very fine performances of both works; she obviously hasn't lost form over the past few years. A good coupling for a fine off-air CD.

Fishy weekend: two excellent plaice, plus a moderate shellfish platter of prawns (frozen), crab (OK) and lobster (very good). Plus a really excellent Pont L'Evèque, a Camembert and a real Cheddar. Ah, le frommage!