> SIBELIUS, NIELSEN Violin Concerti Lin SMK89748 [RB]: Classical Reviews- April2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Cho-Liang Lin plays Violin Concertos by Sibelius and Nielsen
Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)

Violin Concerto (1904)
Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)

Violin Concerto (1911)
Cho-Liang Lin (violin)
Philharmonia (Sibelius); Swedish RSO (Nielsen)
conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen
rec 1988?


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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.

Rob Barnett

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