Romantic Works for Violin
AntonŪn DVORŃK (1841-1904)

Violin Concerto in A minor, Op.53 (1882) [34:57] Ļ
Josef SUK (1874-1935)

Four Pieces Op.17 (1900) [15:07] ≤
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)

Three Romances Op.94 [10:54] ≤
EugŤne YSAüE (1858-1931)

Les Neiges DíAntan Op.23 [8:34] ≥
Berceuse in F minor Op.20 [4:19] ≥
Christine Raphael (violin) Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra/Andreas Albert Ļ Rainer Gepp (piano) ≤ Rhine Chamber Orchestra/Jan Corazolla ≥
rec. 1977, Kongresshalle, Nuremberg (DvorŠk); July 1983, Städtische Festhalle, Viersen (Suk and Schumann) and April 1985, WDR Saal 1, Cologne (Ysaˇe)

Christine Raphael (1943Ė2008) was the second daughter of composer Gunter Raphael (1903-1960) whose music has been accorded increasing interest of late. She started the violin very late ó at 13 ó subsequently studying with Igor Ozim in Cologne, attending Max Rostalís master-classes, and winning a scholarship to study with Ivan Galamian in New York. She performed as a soloist and chamber player, and toured widely. Iíve known her best in the context of her promotion of her fatherís works, but had not heard any other of her performances.

This disc gives one opportunity to hear her in the central repertoire. The major work is the DvorŠk concerto, recorded for a Colosseum LP in 1977. I canít quite believe the violinís very first entry wasnít retaken ó itís horribly flat ó and whilst the playing gets technically more secure, Iím afraid the performance didnít convince me. Itís a strenuous affair, occasionally ponderous, as in a leaden finale, and elsewhere too metrical, one-dimensional, and lacking in rhythmic energy. True, thereís a certain affectionate profile to the slow movement, but the lassitude is endemic, not helped by the blowsy recording, and the rather turgid orchestral contribution.

The repertoire seems to imply an affinity with Bohemian music because she also plays Sukís Op.17 Four Pieces. These, in general, are better than the DvorŠk, but itís clear that she may have chosen tempi relative to her technical confidence; the Burleska lacks zip, and the opening Quasi Ballata is rather laboured, whilst the Un poco triste is not triste enough. She rather lacks Ginette Neveuís sense of fantasy and colour and danger.

The Schumann pieces were recorded, as was the Suk, at Viersen in July 1983. Theyíre pleasantly done, but lack any real insight. Of more interest, though, are the two Ysaˇe works, recorded in Cologne in April 1985. Les Neiges díantan and the Berceuse in F minor are not often performed and whilst we hear Raphael in a better recorded spectrum than in the Suk and Schumann, alas, we also find that the Ysaˇe works conform to the general impression of her playing, which is that it is, for some reason, lacking in personality and in a sense of projection. Itís page-bound playing, regrettably.

Jonathan Woolf

Lacking in personality and in a sense of projection.