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Jascha HEIFETZ (1901–1987)
Transcriptions for Violin and Piano
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810–1849)

Nocturne, Op. 55, No. 2;
Alexander KREIN
(1883–1951)

Dance No. 4;
Stephen FOSTER
(1826–1864)

Jeanie with the light brown hair;
Nikolay RIMSKY-KORSAKOV
(1844–1908)

The Tale of Tsar Saltan: Flight of the bumble-bee;
Christoph Willibald GLUCK
(1714–1787)

Orpheus and Eurydice: Dance of the Blessed Spirits;
Sergei PROKOFIEV
(1891–1953)
The Love for Three Oranges: March;
Claude DEBUSSY
(1862–1918)

Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faun;
Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO
(1895–1968)

Tango;
Traditional Negro

Deep River;
Sergei PROKOFIEV

Romeo and Juliet: Masks;
Richard STRAUSS
(1864–1949)

Stimmungsbilder: No. 1 Auf stillen Waldespfad (Along the silent forest path);
Flausino Rodrigues VALE
(1894–1954)

Ao pé da fogueria (By the bonfire)(Preludio 15);
Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860–1909)
Suite Española: No. 3: Sevilla;
Grigoraş DINICU
(1889–1949)

Hora staccato;
Claude DEBUSSY
Children’s Corner Suite: No. 6 Golliwogg’s Cake-walk;
Ernö DOHNÁNYI (1877–1960)
Suite in F sharp minor: Romanza;
Manuel PONCE
(1882–1948)

Estrellita (My little star);
George GERSHWIN
(1898–1937)

Porgy and Bess: A woman is a sometime thing
Su Yeon Lee (violin), Michael Chertock (piano)
rec. Robert J Werner Recital Hall, University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, 1–3 September 2004
NAXOS 8.557670 [57:38]

 



There seems to be a never-ceasing stream of talented teenager violinists popping up every so often. The latest is this Korean girl. “Sixteen-year-old” the booklet commentaries say and if that’s her age at present or at the time of recording we are not told. Anyway she is another technically accomplished player with beautiful tone – she was using a 1683 Stradivarius at the recording – sensitive phrasing, excellent legato and also a nice feeling for rhythms in some of the livelier pieces. She is also apt at double-stopping, not least in the rarely heard but pleasant Preludio 15 by Brazilian Vale, who was himself a skilled violinist.

She delivers a dreamy Chopin Nocturne, a vital Dance No. 4 by Alexander Krein, another composer whose works are not every-day fare. Rimsky-Korsakov’s ubiquitous bumble-bee buzzes energetically and the skilfully transcribed Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faun is dreamily relaxed. There is actually a dominance of slow and soft music in this recital, which sometimes gives the programme a feeling of longwindedness. The pianist, who inevitably plays a secondary role in a recital of this kind, does a good job. There are many old favourites among the eighteen pieces but also some nice surprises. I have already mentioned two and Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Tango, spiced with some daring dissonances, could be added to the same category, just as Prokofiev’s Masks from Romeo and Juliet is attractive in its somewhat quirky style.

“Now, don’t beat around the bush any more. The whole review so far breathes only half-hearted appreciation! What’s wrong?” Actually very little is distinctly wrong, the other Prokofiev piece, the well-known March from The Love for Three Oranges is a bit heavy-footed but what I miss is temperament. It is all so well-behaved. Beautiful, yes, but beauty also requires some intensity of phrasing and Miss Lee seldom lets go. Of course it is bold indeed to record a collection like this, with many pieces that have been played and recorded by the great violinists of the last century, not least by the arranger himself, Jascha Heifetz, who in most cases is unsurpassed. But we don’t need to go that far and I intentionally refrained from getting down the master’s own recordings from the shelves. I couldn’t withstand the temptation to play two tracks from the young Munich-based Daniel Röhn’s recital, released on Claves less than a year ago (see review). Jeanie with the light brown hair and Ponce’s lovely Estrellita are both included on that disc and there we find a glow, warmth, intensity, the strings vibrating with passion. Miss Lee more or less skims the surface, beautifully, cleanly, musically immaculately but without showing her heart. I know, Daniel Röhn was 23 when he recorded his disc and was already a mature artist but Su Yeon Lee has been giving public performances since she was six … I know, the superb is always the enemy of the good and without odious comparisons this disc should be a nice, and inexpensive, addition to anyone’s collection of violin music. Since I can’t recall a similar all-Heifetz recital it also has library value and listened to, preferably a few pieces at a time, it will give a lot of pleasure, since all the attributes I enumerated in the first paragraph of the review are still valid. Good sound and an, as usual, informative booklet text by Keith Anderson are further assets. Who knows, within a few years Su Yeon Lee may be in the same league as Daniel Röhn. The last piece of the recital, Gershwin’s A woman is a sometime thing, which actually starts with two minutes of Summertime, sounds promising.

Göran Forsling

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