Notes and Editorial Reviews
According to the notes, Stern considered this earlier recording of Schubert’s Trio, op. 99, from 1964 definitive and had little interest in re-recording it. Unlike the other material in the tribute, it should be familiar to listeners from its original release on LP and from its CD reincarnation as 64516 in Sony’s Life in Music Isaac Stern series. Stern was arguably the most successful chamber musician among the superstar violinists of the middle and late 20th century, recalling earlier dedicated collaborators like Busch and Thibaud. Unlike leaders who consider themselves soloists with a very small orchestra, Stern influenced textures subtly, seldom asserting himself. That Zen-like submersion of his ego in the larger musical design gives the
Schubert Trio a unanimity of purpose rare in such collaborations by soloists—Stern set a most instructive example for the generations who’ve followed him. Stern continued in later years to gather talented musicians around him, and, according to the notes, decided to record the Brahms Quintet in 1993 after a series of performances of the work with the same partners—Lin, Tree, Laredo, and Ma. It’s an assembly of stars all of whom have associated themselves, as Stern has, with chamber music. They develop an almost orchestral richness and power, complemented by vibrant recorded sound. And once again, Stern has completely sunk the individual and set aglow around the performance the documentary aura he had hoped it would emanate.
I can’t recall ever hearing from Stern even a movement or two from Bach’s Solo Sonatas and Partitas, so when the recording arrived for review and I noted the Partita in B Minor on the back of the package, I could hardly wait to get it open—if only out of curiosity. Unfortunately, the set includes only the Sarabande and Double, recorded in Carnegie Hall in 1985. Stern’s Sarabande sounds characteristically strong minded; but his Double recreates enough of his allusive magic to make listeners keenly lament that he didn’t bring himself to play these works in public or record them. What stories he could have made out of their transcendental phrases!
It has been easy both to love and to hate Isaac Stern. But as certainly as whatever good and evil he may have done will recede into the misty recollections of ancient storytellers, just as certainly will his recordings keep him young forever. These should be among them. Great music from a great violinist. Urgently recommended.
-- Robert Maxham, FANFARE [11/2002]
reviewing Sony 88936 Read less
Works on This Recording
Quintet for Strings no 2 in G major, Op. 111 by Johannes Brahms
Isaac Stern (Violin),
Lin Cho-Liang (Violin),
Michael Tree (Viola),
Jaime Laredo (Viola),
Yo-Yo Ma (Cello)
Written: 1890; Austria
Date of Recording: 04/22/1993
Venue: Manhattan Center, New York City
Length: 12 Minutes 13 Secs.
Rondo for Violin and Orchestra no 2 in C major, K 373 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Isaac Stern (Violin)
Franz Liszt Academy Chamber Orchestra
Venue: Italian Institute, Budapest, Hungary
Length: 5 Minutes 33 Secs.
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