For a mid-price production the English only notes are
creditable with sufficient about the music and nothing about the artists.
Not a problem. All we need to know can be heard.
Lin and the listeners are very well treated by the
SONY production team and the resulting sound is of great strength and
subtle restraint right from the almost silence of the hushed start of
the Sibelius through to the great waves of sound that bear the work
to its close. Lin faces the toughest opposition in this work but he
shows himself a very fine player prepared to reach out to his audience
with a de Pachmann like sharing of pleasure. He does not supplant Oistrakh
and Rozhdestvensky on BMG-Melodiya (or Haendel on EMI) but his playing
is flooded with individuality - just a little too much for me at the
too slow adagio di molto when the pace slackens a shade too far.
He can certainly be grouped with Mullova on Philips. His vibrato is
well under control and avoids the horrors of the Belkin approach by
a long chalk.
While Sibelius wrote only one concerto his close but
very different contemporary wrote three (one each for violin, flute,
clarinet) and would have written others for oboe, bassoon and French
horn had death not intervened.
Recordings of the Nielsen are nowhere near so thick
on the ground as those of the Finnish composer. I do not know all of
them but this is winning and very likeable playing. The Nielsen work's
character touches more closely the world of the Dvorak concerto while
the polarity of the Sibelius is towards the Tchaikovsky. I rather liked
Arve Tellefsen's interpretation on EMI (the one with Blomstedt) but
the sound on this version is very refined indeed and natural for all
the instruments. Nielsen's winking, gawky, irreverent wit is revelled
in by Lin and the orchestra especially in the Rondo.
True to the form of the otherwise welcome Theta series
Sony do not give us recording dates or locales. On the very positive
side let's remember that these are extremely well done performances
and if you learnt the works from these recordings you would be fortunate
indeed. Theta cover designs are simple but very effective.