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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1842)
Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major (1817)
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)

Introduction et Rondo capriccioso (1863)

Franz WAXMAN (1906-1967)

Carmen Fantasie for violin and orchestra
Maxim Vengerov (violin)
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra/Zubin Mehta
rec Tel Aviv, November 1992
ELATUS 2564-60013-2 [63:12]

This collection is a treasure marred only by the inadequate notes (yes here’s another of my gripes about bargain reissues inadequacies). The 16-page, three-language booklet concentrates only on Vengerov’s recording in Tel Aviv – not even giving a clear indication of its date! There are no notes to speak of on any of the pieces only inane remarks about Vengerov’s clothing and the order in which they chose to record the works. I had always imagined that bargain issues would be of special appeal to those new to music. They would learn precious little buying this set which is a great pity because these are fine performances.

There are many recordings in the catalogue of the Paganini violin concertos with the Accardo/Dutoit six-CD set of all six plus smaller works on DG 463 754-2 being particularly highly regarded. In this early 1990s recording Mehta and Vengerov approach the First Concerto with commendable bravura. It is brilliantly and imaginatively played and Vengerov dashes off the showpiece passages with dazzling fireworks while rendering heartfelt readings of the more romantically tender passages.

Likewise Vengerov displays impressive virtuosity and panache in the remaining works that have very definite Spanish colourings: the two deservedly popular Saint-Saëns pieces and the devilishly difficult Carmen Fantasie specially composed by Franz Waxman (better known as a very successful film composer) for Heifetz.

Excitement and romance - a highly recommended bargain reissue

Ian Lace

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