quick glance at the heading tells the knowledgeable reader
that most of what we have here are well-known lollipops.
They exist in literally hundreds of recordings. Everybody
will have his/her favourite pieces played by one or several
of the violin greats through the last eight decades.
reissue of this twenty-year-old recital at budget price poses
the question: is it worth adding yet another collection?
The answer should be an unequivocal “Yes!”, since Chung is
one of the stars of fairly recent times. Even before putting
the disc in the CD player one knows that these will be technically
impeccable readings, played with great musicality, refinement
and commitment – elegant but never bland.
first few tracks confirm that one’s memories of Ms Chung’s
musical attributes were correct while a vague suspicion that
a bit more warmth wouldn’t come amiss creeps in. She excels
first and foremost in some of the more virtuosic numbers
where her razor-sharp tone and pin-point tuning win triumphs.
Poldini’s Dancing Doll - or Poupée Valsante as
it is possibly better known - is certainly riveting and her
handling of the intricacies in Francescatti’s edition of
Wieniawski’s Scherzo-Tarantelle makes it a winner.
Kreisler’s notorious “fake” composition under the name of
Pugnani is also played for all it’s worth.
more melodic pieces are of course also gloriously played
and the warmth I initially felt wanting – to some degree,
let me add – is there, wonderfully so in Joachim’s arrangement
of his friend Johannes Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No.
1. That surging melody always reminds me of the sea. Hungary
is far from the sea and being an admiral in the Hungarian
navy is no big deal, but Lake Balaton is big enough to convey
a maritime feeling.
two Elgar pieces are excellent and Chung bares all the beauty
of the Chopin Nocturne. When it comes to Kreisler’s “own” pieces,
well played as they are, they lack that hard-to-define Viennese
charm. I must admit though that since I have played Kreisler’s
own inimitable 1938 recordings since my early twenties I
almost always feel a little short-changed when I hear other
versions, irrespective of who is playing. Tastes and performing
styles change and we live in an age where more literal and
objective playing is preferred to the more personal heart-on-sleeve
of earlier generations. That said, delicate portamento and
a furtive tear discreetly wiped off the cheek still belongs
to the Kreislerian style.
let this old-fashioned philosophising deter anyone in need
of this repertoire from acquiring this disc, but I can’t
help adding another comment along the same lines. The only
direct comparison was the Kreisler arrangement of Chaminade’s Sérénade
espagnole, which is also included, together with some
other violin music, in the all-Chaminade CD by Anne-Sofie
von Otter and Bengt Forsberg. The serenade is played by the
eminent Nils-Erik Sparf and he makes it far more improvisatory,
at a livelier tempo. The rhythmic middle section is much
more heavily accented, more earthbound, where Ms Chung is
note perfect but too well-behaved.
my verdict remains: for technically accomplished and musically
excellent violin lollipops, no one need look further than
this budget issue. The sound is worthy of the occasion.
(USA sales only)