> Fire and Ice : Chang CDC5572202 [CF]: Classical Reviews- January 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Popular works for violin and orchestra

Sarasate Carmen Fantasy
Massenet Méditation
Ravel Tzigane
Dvorak Romance in F minor
Beethoven Romance in F major
Bach Air from Suite No.3
Sarasate Zigeunerweisen
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Placido Domingo (conductor)
Recorded at the Philharmonie, Berlin, June 2001
EMI CLASSICS CDC5572202 [60.04]


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Having just reviewed a similar CD of French works for violin played by Renaud Capuçon for Virgin Classics, and another a day or two earlier of highlights from Carmen with Grace Bumbry, this seemed like a case of déja entendu, but then neither Capuçon nor Bumbry sound like Sarah Chang. The start of the Carmen Fantasy is frankly very unattractive violin playing with vibrato so distorted I was tempted to see whether the machine was faulty. Waxmanís fantasy is a better work than Sarasateís whose better Zigeunerweisen, to end this CD, shows the violinist/composer in a far better light. Saccharine tone is the order of the day in Changís interpretation of Massenetís operatic interlude, but matters improve with a fiery interpretation of Ravelís Tzigane (though I prefer the combination of Renaud Capuçon and Daniel Harding). Dvorakís Romance reduces the emotional stakes with an elegant account, Beethovenís even more so in a stylishly phrased performance. Then itís back to the charts again with an arrangement of Bachís Air (yes on a G string to dumb it down to subterranean level) before coming full circle with Sarasate once again. At least this pyrotechnical froth was meant to be played as Chang does, technical bravura to the fore. The Berlin Philharmonic are there, more out of duty one suspects, and with not much to do. When the level of accompaniment gets tricky they guide Domingo through it. Why does he not just do what he does best, and sing? Fire and Ice? Iím afraid itís more a mixture of Hot Air and Slush.

Christopher Fifield


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