This disc is advertised
as the debut disc of Akiko Suwanai.
However I remember an outstanding CD
of her playing of the Dvořák
Concerto with the Budapest Festival
Orchestra under Ivan Fischer. This was
coupled with more Dvořák and Sarasate
and was issued by Philips some time
ago. Then I was mightily impressed by
this soloist’s playing and so it is
again even though, according
to the sleeve-notes, this recording
was issued in 1997 [and
it was released in 1997. It was obtained
especially for this review - LM].
Akiko Suwanai has a
glorious-toned instrument and she knows
how to play it to its maximum effect.
The accompaniment is superb and there
is a recording quality to match. Anyone
purchasing this disc will be extremely
pleased with it.
It is usual these days
to couple the Bruch with the Mendelssohn.
Here it is satisfying to report that
instead of the old warhorse, there is
another popular work, albeit somewhat
less so, drawn from Bruch’s compositions
and orchestra. The only regret that
I have, is that, unlike the Dvořák
disc, an opportunity to lengthen the
playing time somewhat with further virtuoso
violin/orchestra works was not taken.
53 minutes these days, is not really
good enough, no matter how outstanding
the performances. The notes, unusually
for Philips, are devoted solely to their
young artist, and ignore the composer
and his works. This is possibly acceptable
for the Violin Concerto, but some information
could easily have been given about the
Scottish Fantasy. Philips’ notes
are not really up to their usual standard,
and I am sure that this was the fault
of the commissioner of the notes rather
than the writer, as what is provided
is well written and presented.
The notes concentrate
on Suwanai’s ‘soul’. Her publicity photographs
throughout the booklet reinforce this
effect, with this very beautiful young
lady dressed in black, looking suitably
by Sir Neville Marriner and his Academy
of St Martin-in-the-Fields is a model
of its kind. In some of their more recent
recordings I have sensed an occasional
element of routine in their playing.
This disc however is fully in touch
with the spontaneity which used to be
one of their hallmarks in the early
Decca days. If we then add to this an
absolutely superb recording, in an acoustic
which is at once clear and flattering,
Philips have a winner on their hands.
Suwanai can hold her
own against any of the currently popular
soloists in this repertoire, and there
is a wonderful sense of line in her
playing. I well remember back in 1980
how impressed I was with Anne-Sophie
Mutter’s playing of the Bruch and Mendelssohn
concerti when that disc was first released
at the start of her career. I find a
similar response to this current release
and was interested to find that Suwanai
has won the prestigious Tchaikovsky
competition in Moscow in 1990.
The only thing to worry
about now is how to ensure that plenty
of people hear about this CD so that
they will be curious enough to investigate
its contents. Well, the playing time
is one factor, but more than that, to
wait for some six years after its release
to have it reviewed seems somewhat perverse.
Moreover, checking in the RED catalogue,
I find that it has not indeed been submitted
for review. [see note
above - LM]
When I look at some
of the unbridled pushing of some new
artists, this inactivity on the part
of Philips is incomprehensible. Go out
and buy this disc – you will love it.