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Frank Huang Violin recital: Violin Fantasies
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Fantasy for Violin and Piano in C major, D. 934, Op. 159 (1827)
Heinrich Wilhelm ERNST (1814-1865)
Fantaisie brillante sur l'opéra 'Otello' de Rossini, Op. 11 (c.1839)
Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951)
Phantasy for Violin with Piano Accompaniment, Op. 47 (1949)
Franz WAXMAN (1906-1967)
Carmen Fantasy (1947), based on themes from Bizet’s Opera: Carmen
Frank Huang (violin)
Dina Vainstein (piano)
Rec. Country Day School, Performing Art Centre, King City, Ontario, Canada 17-19 July 2002. DDD
NAXOS Laureate Series: 8.557121 [57:18]

 

The one-time child prodigy and award winning violinist Frank Huang is working hard to establish himself on the international stage. On this Naxos release in their Laureate Series Huang is showing his impeccable credentials in a recital of four violin fantasies.

Huang seems particularly well suited to the demands of Schoenberg’s Phantasy for Violin with Piano Accompaniment which was composed in 1949 in the composer’s serial style using twelve tone rows. It was his final instrumental work. In contrast the soloist does not seem so comfortable in the substantial Schubert Fantasy for Violin and Piano in C major, from 1827 and seems unable to offer the necessary warmth and spirit that this Romantic work requires. The 1839 Fantaisie brillante sur l'opéra 'Otello' de Rossini, from Ernst is the least impressive composition on this release though soloist Frank Huang tries his best to raise the work from its mediocrity. The final work is Waxman’s sparkling and ultra-melodic Carmen Fantasy based on themes from Carmen. It formed part of the soundtrack for the 1946 movie Humoresque. Huang gives a fine if rather cautious performance of this exuberant work but his undoubted virtuosity pales when compared to the leading performers such as Maxim Vengerov with whom he now has to compete on an exceedingly cramped world stage.

The sound quality of this Naxos release is acceptable but what comes across is a rather thin violin tone robbed of some of its timbre. It would have benefited from a warmer recording with the player placed further forward. A fine recital from a talented young soloist that will provide pleasure but will undoubtedly appeal more to the specialist collector of the violin repertoire.

Michael Cookson


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