Maxim Vengerov now confronts - and conquers - one of the supreme challenges all great violinists must face: The Brahms violin concerto. This beautiful, virtuosic work has defined careers from Heifetz to Perlman. Vengerov's turn has come, and his rich, burnished tone and impassioned phrasing make this one of the standout concerto CDs of the year. The soulful partnership of Vengerov and Barenboim (one of his most important mentors) is also a strong selling point.
Serious piano collectors and lovers of Rachmaninoff’s music, as well as those willing to be convinced of the greatness of this sonata, won’t want to miss this CD. A most auspicious debut.
A pupil of Fauré, Louis Aubert moved in the same circles as Ravel, Debussy, Koechlin and others and was considered in his day to be one of the most original French composers. With its evocatively impressionistic images of seascapes, the night and Spain, Sillages is amongst the most significant French piano works of the early 20th century. The intensely expressive and impassioned Violin Sonata is Aubert’s only large-scale work in abstract Classical form and the distinctive Feuille d’images is a varied collection of educational pieces. The fiery Habanera, Aubert’s most frequently performed orchestral work, is heard in the composer’s own transcription for piano four hands.
EMI brought out the Brahms Symphony in its Great Conductors of the Twentieth Century series where it joined some other famous Scherchen discs – notably Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony, Haydn’s No. 100 in G and Stravinsky’s Firebird review. Scherchen’s live recording of the Kalinnikov with the Czech Philharmonic has formed part of Tahra’s Scherchen sets. So neither of these performances constitutes terra incognita for admirers of this conductor, who will know, only too well, that when Archipel claim that these 24 bit 96 kHz (whatever that is) restorations derive "from the original sources" the truth is nothing of the kind.
The great composer of piano music Nikolai Medtner also wrote three violin sonatas (and other works for the instrument), two of which are recorded here. The ‘Sonata Epica’ is, as its title suggests, one of the most ambitious and colossal works in the repertoire, and without doubt one of the most important violin sonatas of the twentieth century. It draws deeply on Medtner’s Russian heritage, with intimations of orthodox chant and folk dances. Its continual syncopations show why Medtner was fleetingly regarded as one of Russia’s most progressive composers during the first decade of the twentieth century, yet also contrast with an essentially conservative harmonic idiom. The Sonata No 1 is more understated and reminiscent of Fauré.
Isabelle Faust's first recording for harmonia mundi, Bartok Sonatas, won her a Gramophone Young Artist of the Year. Here she returns to Bartok, perfoming the two concertos, accompanied by Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio SO.