- Conductor: Stefan Solyom
- Composer: ELGAR
- Audio CD (11 June 2013)
- Language: English, English
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: CD, Import
- Label: Berlin Classics
- ASIN: B009P8LCCI
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
Violin Concerto in Bminor,Salut D'Amour,Offertoire CD, Import
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Young violinist Catherine Manoukian finds no challenge too great. The Canadian artist is not only an impressive soloist, appearing with celebrated orchestras around the world, she has also added to her musical education with the world-famous Dorothy DeLay in New York by completing a Masters in Classical Philosophy. It was surely no accident that the emphasis laid on the theory of aesthetics. Yet in the end, Catherine Manoukian decided on a career as a musician, and now presents her fifth recording. She has chosen the Elgar concerto, painted on a large canvas, and this globetrotting artist with German, Armenian, and Japanese roots has opted for something rather special: a live recording, performing with the Weimar Staatskapelle under the baton of her husband Stefan Solyom.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Here is another fine example of how ridiculous that position is, with all the artists being far from British, but delivering an utterly committed and convincing performance of this great concerto, one of Elgar's most personal works.
Catherine Manoukian is a young Canadian Violinist of Armenian, Russian, German and Japanese extraction, the Conductor Stefan Solyom is Austro-Hungarian and the Weimar Orchestra firmly in the rich German Romantic Vein!
The concerto was recorded live by Edel under their Berlin Classics brand, and is technically superb.
The sound is incredibly detailed, with a perfect balance between soloist and orchestra.
I am perplexed by the reviewer on the UK site who criticises the opening of the work under Maestro Solyom's baton-it is masterful. Instead of the usual forthright statement of the theme, and an introduction structured to get us to the violin part in the manner of Brahms, Solyom takes a slower highly charged approach, with extraordinary detailed playing from wonderful cellos, and melodic threads I have never heard before. The whole passage becomes a highly moving entity in its own right-I've actually played it several times and stopped at the violin entry -it is so extraordinary.
When Ms Manoukian enters one could be forgiven for thinking she is playing a cello, or a viola at the least, so deep and rich is the tone.
She employs plenty of portamento but not overmuch, and delivers an assured performance that ranges from highly emotional through to dazzlingly brilliant in this first movement-indeed it is the opening movement where most emotional impact lies in this performance, for the second movement, achingly beautiful though it is, is delivered a tad more swiftly and "straight" than the first movement might have led us to expect. The third movement is powerful and brilliant by turns-and always beautiful.
This young artist obviously has this work fully in her blood, a work which until so recently was regarded as a piece of Edwardian Palm Court Kitsch by so many international artists-thankfully in recent years it is ever increasingly finding its way into the Pantheon of Great Romantic Concertos.
She plays with great panache, style and security and delivers what this work demands-rich, "dirty" string tone!
The orchestra is first rate, with particularly glorious string tone-if I have a small reservation it is that the horns are somewhat recessed which again confuses me with regard to comments in another review from the UK.
This orchestra used to feature regularly to great acclaim on the Arte Nova label releases before its demise, and it is gratifying to hear them back again in such resplendent form.
This is not just another recording-it has something specific and different to say about this wonderful work, and joins the ranks of recent successes by Znaider, Zehetmair and for me-best of all-Shaham, not forgetting the classic Takezawa/Davis/BRSO recording which is hard to beat on any front.
The 2 fillers are charming, recorded in the Studio with Solyom as pianist.
The album style presentation is sumptuous-really beautiful, with copious and fascinating notes and full colour session and concert photographs.
These artists may be seen as "second stream"-but there is NOTHING second stream or second rate about this heart warming and rewarding performance and recording. Unreserved recommendation from me. Stewart Crowe.
There was a time when we might have raised an eyebrow at the effrontery of a Canadian violinist playing Elgar with a second-tier German orchestra, as if Elgar and the spirit of his music were the unique preserve of British performers. Yet of course that is no more the case than we think only Russians should play Rachmaninov (ask the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic - OK, OK, they have a Russian conductor...) and Elgar is surely now international, even if he still does not go down in the US as he should. This recording of a live performance should be sufficient to convince the most jingoistic old buffer of Elgar's eminent exportability - not that that is a new discovery; conductor Hans Richter knew it well.
The combination of swagger and restrained pathos so peculiar to Elgar's idiom is beautifully captured here, not only by this wonderful young violinist but by conductor Stefan Solyom - unknown to me; but what do I know? - and his Weimar orchestra. His tempi and application of rubato seem to me finely judged; if I have one criticism it is that, well balanced though the recording usually is, occasionally instruments furthest away from the soloist become too recessed, hence the horns may at times seem too reticent.
The two bonuses are charming but it is the performance of the concerto which is the draw here and would be worth buying without any additions.
Otherwise, technically, artistically and sonically this is a superb recording from a most unexpected source and worthy to stand alongside anyone's established favourites - and I particularly like the young Nigel Kennedy with Vernon Handley, too.