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Milhaud: Violin Concertos, Etc / Steinbacher, Steinberg


Release Date: 09/27/2005 
Label:  Orfeo   Catalog #: 646051   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Darius Milhaud
Performer:  Arabella Steinbacher
Conductor:  Pinchas Steinberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 1 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Arabella Steinbacher is yet another obviously talented young violinist, but this enterprising release really throws down the gauntlet to the competition, showing how to be both brilliant and musically interesting. These three Milhaud concertos are all but unknown, but they give Steinbacher plenty of opportunity to display her glittering technique as well as emotional maturity. This may sound surprising given the composer, a member of Les Six and one often noted for his cool polytonal style, eclecticism, and emotional detachment.


These are certainly facets on Milhaud's omnivorous musical personality, and like all very prolific composers he invariably is described as "uneven", especially by experts who have
Read more taken no opportunity (and have no desire) to bother listening to the majority of what he wrote. In fact, the three concertos here couldn't be more contrasted. The First Violin Concerto lasts a bit less than 10 minutes, but features in its central slow movement one of Milhaud's most evocative music-hall or cabaret-style songs (subtitled "Romance"), and Steinbacher sings it beautifully through her violin.


Concertino de printemps (Spring Concertino) is the first in what eventually became Milhaud's "Four Seasons", each composed for a different ensemble: viola and nine instruments (summer), two pianos and eight instruments (autumn), and trombone with string orchestra (winter). Milhaud himself recorded the entire group for Philips with the Lamoureux Orchestra in the late-1950s, and this new recording is every bit as good. It times out to within a few seconds of Milhaud's own version, not in itself significant unless it shows, as here, a similar liveliness of spirit and freshness of rhythm.


The Second Violin Concerto is a very major work, one of the great unknown violin concertos of the last century. It's a big piece, about 25 minutes long in three movements, and fully symphonic in scope. Its emotional depth, supposedly inspired by reflection on the just-ended Second World War, belies the composer's reputation for polished superficiality. The opening movement is a stern march with lyrical interludes that ends threateningly; the slow movement, marked "slow and somber", is an absolutely gorgeous elegy that really lets Steinbacher display her warm tone to excellent effect. The finale begins in an optimistic mood, but the ending is agitated and quite exciting.


In short, this is a real virtuoso work that deserves to be heard often, and Steinbacher treats it with the respect it demands, giving to the music a full measure of passion and conviction. Pinchas Steinberg and the Munich radio forces provide stylish accompaniments throughout, and the sound is very good. If there's anything lacking it might be just a touch of that typically "sec" quality in both the orchestral playing (the brass especially) and engineering, but this isn't a big deal at all. Le Boeuf sur le toit makes an apt bonus in revealing yet more of Milhaud's range, though this performance doesn't hang together quite as well as those by Bernstein (EMI) or Tortelier (Chandos). Still, this remains Steinbacher's show, and she steals it, impressively.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Violin no 1, Op. 93 by Darius Milhaud
Performer:  Arabella Steinbacher (Violin)
Conductor:  Pinchas Steinberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927 
2.
Concertino de printemps for Violin, Op. 135 by Darius Milhaud
Performer:  Arabella Steinbacher (Violin)
Conductor:  Pinchas Steinberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; France 
3.
Concerto for Violin no 2, Op. 263 by Darius Milhaud
Performer:  Arabella Steinbacher (Violin)
Conductor:  Pinchas Steinberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945; USA 
4.
Le boeuf sur le toit, Op. 58 by Darius Milhaud
Conductor:  Pinchas Steinberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919; France 

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