Rather than deride Ms Chang (as one critic did in relation to her recent
EMI Classics recording of the Richard Strauss Concerto) for selecting a concerto
outside the usual war-herd I would like to praise her for the sense of adventure
she has shown.
She is more fortunate in the Goldmark than she is in the Strauss. While the
Strauss work had its moments, the Goldmark is consistently stronger without
being in the absolute front rank. The happiness of the Goldmark concerto
is akin to the Dvorak, Beethoven and Glazunov concertos rather than the Brahms
and the Tchaikovsky. A smile beams out unmistakably from this music making.
After a middle movement of sensitivity and fastidiously generous sentiment
Chang soars and sings her way through the finale in a dashingly festive meld
of Beethoven and Smetana.
The Concerto has had several recordings over the years and is gaining ground
in the virtuoso 'stakes'. The classic stereo recording (by which I grew to
know the piece) is Nathan Milstein; Philharmonia Orchestra/Harry Blech on
Testament SBT1047 (from an HMV LP SXLP30193). Competing versions include:
Nai-Yuan Hu/Seattle SO/Gerard Schwarz. Delos DE3156, Perlman, Pittsburgh
SO, Previn EMI CDC7 47846-2 and Alberto Kocsis; Savaria SO/János
Petró Hungaroton White Label HRC162. Most recently Joshua Bell (a
first class player) has recorded the Goldmark and Sibelius on Sony Classical
SK65949 and at least one review speaks very highly of the disc. I know only
the Milstein which is a very special case.
Prometheus Bound darkens the scene in a way suggestive of
Mendelssohn's overture Ruy Blas. A long introduction prepares the
ground for what seems to be an evocation of a wander through German romantic
territory: dark forests and craggy wooded promontories. This is a slightly
Wagnerian mixture subsiding into sleep. It is ultimately over-extended in
relation to its ideas but is impressive in the atmosphere it generates.
Apart from the odd lack of polish from the orchestra this can now take a
proud place among the modern versions.