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.
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.
Never Final, Never Gone is Beck's third Innova CD and consists of works that are predominantly "early" for Beck, dating from 1988 to 1996, though all of the recordings, save that of title work and the percussion piece Kopeyia, were made in the twenty first century. It is apparent from the start that Beck's concern for communication and naturally evolved dramatic form was already in place at this stage of his endeavors………..Uncle Dave Lewis @ AllMusic
“Elisaveta Blumina's achievementis to provoke a re-evaluation of this corner of the Weinberg repertoire. Where previously one might have suspected the 21-year-old composer's debut sonata of a degree of formal and textural miscalculation, Blumina's superior clarity and agility reveal it as a bold and uncompromising statement…She crafts each piece with care and insight.”
In my opinion, Evgeny Kissin's musical gifts and individuality have never been more apparent than on this CD. His technique is in top form (as always), and his ideas work brilliantly. The Sonata in F sharp minor Sonata is played convincingly, for once, and Kissin manages to hold together the grossly-overworked fandango rhythms in the first movement. The highlight of this disc, however, is Carnaval.
George Enescu (1881-1955) was known primarily as one of the great virtuoso violinists of his day, although he was also a celebrated conductor and influential teacher of his instrument – Yehudi Menuhin, Arthur Grumiaux, Ivri Gitlis, and Christian Ferras were just a few of the great violin soloists of the latter half of the 20th century who passed through his classes in Paris. Apart from the First Romanian Rhapsody, it is only recently that Enescu, the composer of a small but substantial catalogue of works, has come to the fore and this set, comprising his three completed symphonies and his best-known Violin Sonata, should further enhance his reputation.
This is the second volume in a series devoted to the works for strings by Béla Bartók, with James Ehnes the featured soloist. Ehnes had earlier recorded the Violin and Viola Concertos (CHAN 10690), which was made Disc of the Month in Gramophone magazine. On this new recording, he turns to the Violin Sonatas and Rhapsodies, complemented by the earliest surviving work by Bartók for violin and piano, an Andante. He is accompanied by the pianist Andrew Armstrong.
The Medtner sonata is the principal work here. Of the three that he wrote the Third (Epica) is perhaps the most intricately worked and, at over 40 minutes, certainly the most substantial. At times it seems almost too long for its own good and for that reason it needs a very persuasive and masterly performance in order to project its strengths. Fortunately Vaditn Repin's and Boris Berezovsky's performance here is about as persuasive as you can get — Repin is lyrical and passionate and has plenty of fiery temperament for this music, and he is ideally complemented by Berezovsky's equally splendid playing. Much is made of the sonata's lyrical and melodic abundance (the Scherzo is delivered with great panache) and Repin's choice of tempo for all movements is expertly judged — compared to Alexander Shirinsky and Dmitri Galynin, Repin comes in faster in just about all movements; even so I still find the finale a little overworked and extended for the material.