Çedille's products are invariably
of very high quality. Design, documentation, audio and
interpretative aspects are well handled. Their track record
Over the years we have reviewed
their Blackwood symphonies 1 and 5, the Joachim and Brahms
violin concertos played by Rachel Barton Pine (a winner
on all counts), Robert Kurka's splendid opera The Good
Soldier Schweik (based on Jaroslav Hasek's satirical
novel), an anthology of Kurka's orchestral music and the
piano concerto of LaMontaine. All attest to a singularly
non-conformist vision. It's perhaps a pity that for this
issue it was not possible to include a recording premiere
which would have marked this disc out with even greater
individuality in a thronged marketplace.
Koh's adventurous taste in
repertoire is to be applauded. In recent years she has
played the Ligeti concerto, Corigliano's The Red Violin,
Martinů's Double Concerto with Hogwood (the notes
do not say which of his double concertos). She has
also recorded the Menotti concerto for Chandos, the Nielsen
for Kontrapunkt, the Klami for Bis and the Eshpai No. 4
The Szymanowski is
a favourite of mine. Over the years the reference recordings
for me have been Oistrakh and Sanderling on Melodiya, Haendel
on Supraphon and Kulka on EMI Classics,. This one does
not supplant those versions; it is good rather than outstanding.
What it lacks, across its single movement structure, is
that finale sense of wildness and spontaneity; a strangely
controlled fluttering instability. Nevertheless there is
much to enjoy. I loved the pointing of the dancing solo
line by Koh (e.g. 13:12) and the searching recording lays
bare every thread and stratum of the orchestra. Perhaps
it is all slightly too analytical. Others may well prefer
this approach. You must choose.
One unusual aspect was the
way in which Koh at 17:40 onwards made me notice, for the
first time, the parallels between this work and Saint-Saëns' Havanaise.
Then we come to the Martinů which
is a work of nostalgia and dynamism. Again the reference
albums are not displaced. The ideals, but with compromises
in recording quality, are Josef Suk's disc including the
Ančerl-conducted two Martinů violin concertos
and the Rhapsody-Concerto. There’s also, in distressed
sound, Louis Kaufman's recording from the late 1940s. The
reading here is again a shade too cool. I felt the lack
of a certain seething buoyancy although the nostalgic sentiment
is put across well.
Koh and Kalmar are well and
truly gripped by the Bartók piece which in its two
movements - one almost ten minutes long; the other just
over two - marks the composer's love affair with the violinist
Steffi Geyer. The first, for violin and orchestra, was
written in 1907-8 while the fires of passion and the hope
of passion burnt on a high flame. The second, which is
for orchestra alone, takes the love theme of the first
Portrait and lays bitter waste to it.
The disc ends well indeed
although it's a pity that they did not tackle the Bartók
Violin Concerto No. 1 the first movement of which is identical
to the first of the Two Portraits.
By the way Geyer seems to
have been quite a flame. Another of her ‘moths’ was Othmar
Schoeck (1886-1957) whose lovely lyrical violin concerto
owes its existence to Schoeck's almost certainly unrequited
love for the young violinist.
Ms Koh plays the ex-Grumiaux,
ex-General Dupont Stradivari of 1727.
The supporting text for this
disc is by Andrea Lamoreaux, music director of Chicago's
classical music station WFMT-FM. It is clearly printed
using a font of comfortable reading size.
The repertoire mix in the
case of this Çedille disc shows a creative imagination.
The design details are consonant with the repertoire.
Comparative reviews on Musicweb
- Pospichal/Atre Nova