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Con Amore–Violin Encores
Fritz KREISLER (1875–1962)
La Gitana [3:00]
Liebesleid [3:30]
Ede POLDINI (1869–1957)
Dancing Doll (arr. Fritz Kreisler)[2:23]
Henryk WIENIAWSKI (1835–1880)
Scherzo-Tarantelle Op. 16 (ed. Zino Francescatti)[4:41]
Edward ELGAR (1857–1934)
Salut d’amour, Op. 12 [2:57]
La Capricieuse, Op. 17 [4:26]
Pjotr TCHAIKOVSKY (1840–1893)
Valse sentimentale, Op. 51 No. 6 (arr. Michael Press) [2:28]
Praeludium and Allegro (in the style of Gaetano Pugnani) [5:41]
Ottokar NOVÁČEK (1866–1900)
Moto perpetuo (arr. Josef Gingold) [3:01]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862–1918)
Beau soir (arr. Jascha Heifetz) [2:21]
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810–1849)
Nocturne in C sharp minor, Op. posth. (arr. Nathan Milstein) [3:49]
Caprice in A minor (arr. Fritz Kreisler) [1:39]
François-Joseph GOSSEC (1734–1829)
Gavotte (arr. Fritz Meyer) [2:45]
Liebesfreud [3:13]
Cécile CHAMINADE (1857–1944)
Sérénade espagnole (arr. Fritz Kreisler) [2:33]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835–1921)
Caprice (after Étude en forme de valse, Op. 52 No. 6) (transc. Eugène Ysaÿe) [8:18]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833–1897)
Hungarian Dance No. 1 (arr. Joseph Joachim) [3:14]
Kyung Wha Chung (violin), Phillip Moll (piano)
rec. Forde Abbey, Chard, Somerset, UK, October 1985
DECCA ELOQUENCE 476 7554 [60:35]
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A 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.
The 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.
The 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.
The 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.
The 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.
Don’t 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.
Anyway, 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.
Göran Forsling


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