van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Violin Concerto in D major Op 61 (1806) [44:41] Max BRUCH (1838 - 1920)
Violin Concerto No.1 in G Minor, Op. 26 (1868) [25:03]
Kyung-Wha Chung (violin)
Concertgebouw Orchestra, (Beethoven), London Philharmonic Orchestra
rec. live, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, November-December 1989 (Beethoven) and at
No.1 Studio, Abbey Road, London, May 1990 (Bruch) EMI CLASSICS
by Kyung-Wha Chung are never to be ignored, still less these
precious collaborations on disc with Klaus Tennstedt. This was
however my first encounter with this brace, one (the Bruch)
recorded with the conductor’s own LPO at Abbey Road and the
Beethoven recorded live over several performances in Amsterdam.
Chung had recorded the Beethoven
with Kondrashin. But as with that traversal I’m afraid I found
this one lacking in impetus and internal dynamism. The opening
is rather lethargic and Tennstedt, rather like that master accompanist
Kondrashin, sets a broad tempo, one that naturally aligns with
his soloist’s imperatives. There are times it has to be said
when his conducting becomes dogged. Chung plays with her familiar
sweet but slim toned effervescence – though her rather fast
vibrato can limit tonal variety. She does however expend considerable
skill on an introspective and inward-looking view at the climax
of the first movement, one that vests her playing with sympathetic
expression. Where this works less convincingly is in the slow
movement, which sounds sentimentalised to an unusual degree.
It’s not immediately evident that this is the way the playing
will take us, as Chung starts with tender and refined intimacy – but
it’s where we end up. The finale is generally well sprung if
not necessarily very exciting or compelling. Chung plays the
Kreisler cadenzas and Tennstedt balances brass with sometimes
interesting results. As a performance though it disappoints.
too, for different reasons, does the Bruch. It’s Chung’s lack
of optimum tonal breadth that limits one’s enthusiasm as much
as anything. Her first entry is – or is balanced – far too loud;
the sense of presence is evidence of a robust, rather impersonal,
not unattractive but ultimately limited view of the score. Tennstedt
handles the orchestral fabric competently though without the
kind of insight that his German colleague Kurt Masur brought
to it in his recording for Salvatore Accardo. Chung indulges
one or two expressive finger position changes and she does exhibit
introspective assurance, as she had in the companion concerto;
but the performance remains confined by her tonal qualities – maybe
some will find this a blessing.
as with her Decca recording with Rudolf Kempe I find the results
lack the ultimate in romantic allure.
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