£16 post free World-wide

 


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


 


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

Search
What's New
Previous CDs
Concerts
Jazz
Nostalgia
Composers
Resources
Announce
Labels index


Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Some items
to consider


Shostakovich 14 Petrenko


Rachmaninov #3
Prokofiev #2

 


Dunedin Consort

Peter Grimes

Hymn of Jesus: Sea Drift

Complete Mozart Edition
Mozart complete edition

Vaughan Williams Symphonies 5 & 8 £11

Weiner, Klepper, Bloch, Schulhoff £12 post free


Available again


 
REVIEW



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Prťalable
Alto
Arcodiva
CDAccord
Centaur
Hallť
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter
 

CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS

Passion Ysaˇe
EugŤne YSAüE (1858-1931)
Six Sonatas for Solo Violin, Op. 27 (1924)
No.1 in G minor "To Joseph Szigeti" [13.31]
No.2 in A minor "To Jacques Thibaud" [11.08]
No.3 in D minor "To Georges Enesco" [5.58]
No.4 in E minor "To Fritz Kreisler" [9.34]
No.5 in G major "To Mathieu Crickboom" [8.12]
No.6 in E major "To Manuel Quiroga" [6.13]
Rachel Kolly díAlba (violin)
rec. August 2008, Switzerland.
WARNER CLASSICS 2564 68385-5 [67:38]

Experience Classicsonline
Passion is certainly a word you can apply to these recordings, which in terms of timings undercut those of Henning Kraggerud (see review) at times by a remarkably wide margin. Comparing the two recordings, Kolly díAlba is closer to the microphones, providing immediacy and impact, but ultimately a more fatiguing listen than with Kraggerud. His mix is admittedly balanced to accommodate SACD spaciousness, but the comparative effect is the same in plain stereo. This Warner disc is superbly recorded, but does catch every sniff and other inhalation along with the notes.

Iíve had another listen to Kraggerud, and for good measure obtained a copy of the score. A colleague of mine mentioned finding it hard to believe these pieces were being played by a single person before seeing the evidence in music notation, but then, heís a horn player. I was more interested in finding out if my unease about certain aspects of this recording could be given more clarity through a more thorough examination, and as ever this is indeed the case. Rest assured, Rachel Kolly díAlba is a remarkable violinist and these are incredible performances as any good performance of these sonatas must be, but there are one or two warning lights I would put next to this CD.

I may have been rather pre-programmed by Henning Kraggerud, but there can hardly be any denying his poise and refinement in these pieces, and hearing this new recording throws his remarkable achievement into sharp relief. He does sometimes take movements a little under the marked metronome tempo, but the music gains in its communication through making each note and chord sound effectively. Kolly díAlbaís opening to the Sonata No.1, marked Grave, is a little like a barn door being crashed by heavy machinery by comparison. With a higher tempo and superficially more intense approach, we miss clarity in some of those spread chords, and the harmonic intention of the music is weakened as a result. Kraggerudís double-stopping is also more seamless, and in other movements his pizzicati have more tone and substance. There are some other little niggles I have, but I donít want to turn this into a prickly commentary on minuscule detail Ė no performance of these pieces will ever be entirely perfect, and with so much impressive playing on offer it would be churlish to complain. My criticisms where there are any would always be connected with my impression of how the composerís ideas are communicated Ė which in any case will have to be taken as a subjective point of view. The Fugato movement in this sonata is a remarkable piece, but the symptoms of unseemly haste do crop up here from time to time. The moments where the fugue theme appears amongst a decorative harmonic movement in triplets for instance, where other players give themselves more rhythmic license to allow the melodic notes to speak, Kolly díAlba is more determined to maintain the flow as it appears on the page, and makes things sound congested to my ears. There is also a big fermata over the open G string note which launches a run to another G four octaves higher which is ignored. Admittedly there is an ad lib. marking, but I take that to mean longer, allowing the fundamental to resonate, rather than leaping off it as quickly as possible as if your bow was too short to make it to the change of direction two beats later. I wouldnít mention the missed last upper F in bar two of the Allegretto poco scherzoso if it didnít happen twice in the repeated opening section. With the greater space given later on in this movement those spread chords do come through with greater clarity, and you can hear the difference it makes when this kind of material is given sufficient weight.

Kolly díAlba teases more with the little Bach quotes at the beginning of the Sonata No.2, but some of those dramatic phrases are dashed through so quickly that you wonder whatís going on. Itís impressive violin playing, but disorientating musically. Taking the Malinconia movement more compactly perhaps agrees with the Poco Lento marking, but doesnít tug at my tear-ducts in the same way as Kraggerud, whose atmosphere here is rather special. The Sonata No.3 opens with another rising gesture which I feel should end with a sense of crescendo which reaches through the final long note and beyond. Itís a shame this is rather short here, and deflates at the end of the note, an anti-climax rather than a powerful sweep which I believe should end in a slower more intensely sustained bow movement. This Kolly díAlba does more in the opposing downward gesture further on in the introduction, so itís a question of balance and structure as well. The opening of the Sonata No.4 is another where the choice of hearing those swift movements between melody notes as passing ornaments or harmonic events where every note can be heard is also one I donít hear resolved as I would have liked. This kind of thing niggles more at me as there is so much more clarity later on in the piece, and as a result so much more effective communication of the ideas.

I am only skimming the surface here, but all of these little corners of doubt have their echoes elsewhere in these sonatas. Again, my preference for the overtly less passionate but more poised and still electric Kraggerud will be obvious, but the reasons should be objectively apparent even if you donít agree and prefer the Ďpassioní: with Kraggerud you can listen and be left wanting more. He accurately pins down the climax and tonal centre of each movement and gives us structure as well as spectacle. His playing flows with a greater sense of logical sense, allowing the memory to reflect and refer, rather than having the sensation on constantly being on the crest of a precipitate wave. With Kolly díAlba I personally finish feeling a bit roughed-up, and more ready for a cold shower than an encore.

What is it that I do like about this recording? Well, more than you might imagine. The drama in Kolly díAlbaís playing is inescapable, and that Passion Ysaˇe title goes further than mere sales pitch in terms of white-hot expressive emphasis. Kolly díAlba doesnít turn these pieces into stereotype showstoppers despite my moans about the occasional over-swift set of notes or loss of integrity in certain corners. Her performances are not only technically impressive, which is a given but shouldnít by any means be taken for granted, but also in essence true to the spirit of the sonatas. If you want to hear what I mean, turn to Sonata No.5, where Kolly díAlba creates a marvellous atmosphere, responding to every marking in the score to superb effect.

Rachel Kolly díAlba is a special talent of whom we will be hearing more, of this you can be assured. This CD is accompanied by her intelligently written programme notes for each of the sonatas, and despite a few fluffy pictures is a release of substance, restraining from becoming one of those personality promo discs. By way of a summary, my impression of this is that of a young personís recording Ė spectacular and wonderfully impressive, but still erring on the side of toothsome technical show when weighed against memorable musical communication. Thereís that word again, but in the end itís the music which will bring you back time and again, not the player or the violin Ė in this case a 1727 Stradivarius. I would be the last to say that Rachel Kolly díAlbaís recording is lacking in merit or musicality, but I am prepared to bet twenty years worth of compound interest on a fiver that she will be doing it differently when it comes time to pay out.

Dominy Clements
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools






Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.