Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Tianwa Yang / Vilde Frang

Concert and recital programmes are becoming stupefyingly boring, with the same few works re-cycled over and over again, unless it be some contemporary piece, to be played once only and never again, and sandwiched carefully mid-programme to discourage non-fans from arriving late, or leaving early. Two recent CDs to tumble through my door reveal how recorded music is saving the day for the thousands of musical works rarely or never played in public. One new CD features seven shorter pieces for violin and orchestra by Camille Saint-Saëns, with only the Havanaise and Introduction & Rondo capriccioso being at all familiar. And even those two pieces rarely show up in concert programmes today. Which is a great pity, since all the music here is attractive and pleasing to the ear. Expert performer is the highly talented Tianwa Yang, with the Malmö Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marc Soustrot. I suspect people in Havana are more laid back than Ms Yang supposes, and her Havanaise goes by at a brisk trot. Still, delightful music, well played and well recorded. A CD from St Naxos, of course; what would lovers of violin music do without Naxos?

The other CD was a most enjoyable recital of 17 short pieces for violin and piano, played by Vilde Frang, with pianist José Gallardo. You won't find these pieces played in recital programmes, except as encores, more's the pity; the choice is excellent, based on homage to great violinists of the past as composers or arrangers. Thus, Heifetz, Kreisler, Wieniawski, Auer, Szigeti, Bazzini, et al. I was especially happy to re-encounter Szigeti's arrangement of an étude by Scriabin (étude in thirds). The playing is of the very best, the recording and balance just as they should be. Being a Warner product, the CD is liberally plastered with photos of young Ms Frang, of course. Naxos, quite rightly, gives us just one small black and white photo of Tianwa Yang, on the understandable grounds that we are buying the music of Saint-Saëns, not the performance of a young female.

I now rarely go to live concerts or recitals, more a question of geography and logistics rather than anything else. But looking at present day concert programmes, I guess I'd probably stick to recorded music even if I lived next door to a concert hall, since recorded music has such riches in terms of repertoire offered. Like the two CDs here.

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