One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere

Special Offer
Complete Chopin
17 discs
Pre-order for £100


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

Works for Voice by György Kurtág


Best Seller

Symphony for solo piano

Chopin Piano Concerto No.1

Schubert Piano sonata

Schubert symphony No. 9

Katherine Watson (Sop)

From Severn to Somme


We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Violin Concerto in D major, Op.35 (1879) [36.06]
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Violin Concerto in E minor, Op.64 (1844) [27.44]
Ray Chen (violin)
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Daniel Harding rec. Berwaldhallen, Stockholm, 4-9 April 2011
SONY 88697984102 [63.50]

Experience Classicsonline

There are quite a few couplings of these same two concertos in the catalogue; I myself have the CD recorded in 1982 by Kyung-Wha Chung and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra under Charles Dutoit. This is currently available as a Decca twofer with the addition of the Beethoven and Sibelius concertos. That recording has been used as a comparison throughout this review.

The opening of the Mendelssohn concerto begins with a tremolo on the violins over which the soloist enters immediately with a soaring cantilena. Underpinning this tremolo there is a rhythm on pizzicato strings which Mendelssohn clearly intended to be heard – it sets the basic tempo and gives impetus to the score – because he doubled it with soft timpani strokes to make certain it registered. Here this is very far back in the sound-picture, and the opening of the movement therefore sounds more amorphous and rhapsodic than it should. Hugh Wolff’s performance with Hilary Hahn and the Oslo Philharmonic recognises the importance of this, although Jan Krenz gets the point well also in his recording with Arthur Grumiaux and the New Philharmonia. When compared to Chen, Chung brings rather more light and shade to her opening phrases, with more sense of give and take with the orchestra. After that Chen is perfectly fine, giving a forthright performance; but although his reading is technically irreproachable, there is more romantic fervour to be found in Mendelssohn’s concerto than is present in this very straight and classical interpretation.
Similarly with the Tchaikovsky there is a certain lack of romantic passion in Chen and Harding’s reading of the first movement, and the polacca rhythms sound just a bit too mechanical; it is not until the slow movement that Chen gets the bit between his teeth with a real injection of Slavonic soul. Again there is nothing wrong with his performance to which one can point and say “This or that could be done better”. However one does get an impression that this recording is one that has been made to display Chen’s performance as it exists at present and at a very early stage in his career. Nothing has been done to look afresh at the score and present something that is sufficiently different to justify yet another recording of either of these long-established warhorses. After all there is a very great deal of competition.
There are not so many recordings of this exact coupling in the catalogue – the Mendelssohn always seems to find itself teamed with the first Bruch concerto – but Chung’s performance strikes me as preferable in sufficient ways to give it a slight edge. A later version of the same coupling from Sayaka Shoji on DG suffers from orchestral playing that is sometimes rather less than tidy and rather tubby orchestral sound - at least as recorded - and the Mendelssohn suffers from a disagreement about the tempo between soloist and conductor in the opening bars, where the soloist slows the tempo immediately upon her entry.
And then for a real performance which gives all the romantic passion one could want: Grumiaux’s performances are something else if you can tolerate analogue sound - albeit of vintage quality. These are available on a Philips duo - in addition to the Mendelssohn and the Tchaikovsky you also get the Beethoven and Brahms concertos - for about the same price as this single CD. One the other hand if you want the Chung performance in digital sound with its additional couplings on the Decca twofer - again at about the same price, although her recording of the Tchaikovsky with Dutoit has been replaced by her earlier and slightly rougher analogue recording with Previn - be warned that the Vienna Philharmonic sound in the Beethoven is a bit acidic. If you have enjoyed Chen in live performance, though, these performances will be the only ones that will suffice.
Paul Corfield Godfrey


































































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


      Composer surveys
      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

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


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

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



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

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
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
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
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.