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REVIEW
RECORDING OF THE MONTH
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Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Violin Concerto in D major, Op.35 [36:41]
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Violin Concerto in E minor, Op.64 [29:06]
Fumiaki Miura (violin)
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin/Hannu Lintu
rec. 2015, Teldex Studio, Berlin
AVEX AVCL25878 [65:49]

It was quite by chance, or happy coincidence, that I came across the name of Fumiaki Miura. Browsing performances of the Saint-SaŽns Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso on YouTube, I stumbled on a version with an unnamed orchestra accompanying a dazzling performance by a young violinist, who seemed to take the concert by storm. It was pretty evident that here was an exceptional talent.

Born in Japan in 1993, Miura and has been playing the violin since the age of three. His father is a concertmaster and gave Fumiaki his first lessons. In 2008 he was admitted to the Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo, studying with Tsugio Tokunaga. Recently he has been working with Pavel Vernikov at the Vienna Conservatory. His big break came in 2009 when he became the youngest ever winner of the Joseph Joachim Hannover International Violin Competition, where he pocketed both the Music Critics' and the Audience Prize. In November 2012, he gave the Polish premiere of Penderecki’s Concerto for Viola and Violin with Julian Rachlin. His violin is a J.B. Guadagnini (1748) on loan from the Yellow Angel Foundation, Japan.

The Tchaikovsky Concerto in Miura’s hands is not just a vehicle for virtuosic display. He invests the score with an affluence of fantasy and resourcefulness, applying his formidable musicianship to the service of the music. Take the second subject of the opening movement: excess emotion is reined in and the music doesn’t degenerate into syrupy affectation. I would guess that he has lived with this piece for a while, has a profound understanding of its structure, and approaches it holistically. The double-stop passages in the development section are clean and well articulated, with pristine intonation. The cadenza is technically flawless, but musically contoured. The slow movement is tastefully played, not over-sentimentalized, and there’s an instinctive sense of line. The finale bristles with energy and ťlan, with spiccato passages crisp and incisive. He does not employ Leopold Auer’s cuts.

Likewise, in the Mendelssohn Concerto there is a maturity of vision. It’s a leisurely approach, with the music unfolding as though freshly composed. The lyrical passages are heartfelt and expressive. In the slow movement, Miura caresses the phrases, savouring the moment, and proves master of nuance and inflection. Expressive slides and position changes are not overdone, but are executed with refinement and intelligence. In the finale the sun comes out, and I’m thankful that it isn’t rushed like some. Articulation is clean and metrically elastic. Striking throughout is Miura’s rich, warm tone, which is never monochrome, but suffused with tonal colour and shadings.

Hannu Lintu proves a sensitive collaborator, and the rapport between soloist and conductor is immediately tangible. The recording engineers have achieved a sterling sound picture, with the Teldex Studio providing a sympathetically warm acoustic. The balance between soloist and orchestra is effectively met. Orchestral detail, especially from the glorious woodwind section of Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester, set this recording apart and does so with distinction. Booklet notes are in Japanese only, with English track-listings and timings.

Apparently, this is the second recording the violinist has made. His debut release was a disc of Prokofiev's Violin Sonatas with Itamar Golan for Sony Japan, which I have not been able to track down. This is a pity, as it doesn’t seem to be available in the West. Miura has taken a brave stance taking on these two warhorses of the violin repertoire, in what is an over-saturated market-place. My initial fears, however, have been allayed. This recording ranks as one of most satisfying accounts of this perennial pairing I have heard, and worthily has a place on the shelves next to my favourite versions. I am almost certain that we will be hearing a lot more of Fumiaki Miura in days to come. Such outstanding talent bodes well for his future career.

Stephen Greenbank
 

 

 



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