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Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Violin Concerto No 2, Concerto Italiano / Yang

Castelnuovo-tedesco / Yang / Boer
Release Date: 02/10/2015 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 573135   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
Performer:  Tianwa Yang
Conductor:  Pieter-Jelle De Boer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  SWR Baden-Baden and Freiburg Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This recording of Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s early (1924) Concerto Italiano purports to be a world premiere, and while you can never really tell these days, this is certainly the first time that I have seen the work on disc. It’s very enjoyable, and very Italian–in a good way. The thematic material has character, even in the long opening Allegro moderato e maestoso, while the central Arioso sets the seal on the music’s Italianate lyricism. Yang plays the work very confidently; she has no technical limitations at all, and she captures the warmth of those romantic tunes with unfailing aplomb. Certainly she deserves credit for learning a big, unfamiliar piece that she’ll probably never be asked to play in concert.

The Concerto
Read more Italiano also makes ideal sense as the coupling to the slightly better known Violin Concerto No. 2 “I Profeti” (“The Prophets”). Composed in 1931, it was taken up by Heifetz, no less, who made a stunning recording that has popped up in various incarnations (coupled to the Walton Concerto on Naxos Historical). The modern reference version has been Perlman’s hard to find outing with Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic on EMI, in tandem with Ben-Haim’s Violin Concerto. The piece is interesting in that it really does sound like a (good) soundtrack to a Hollywood bible epic, although it predates both the genre and the composer’s American period by more than half a decade. If you like, say, Respighi’s exotic tone poems or Bloch’s Schelomo, then you’ll enjoy this well-wrought and colorful work similarly.

Again, Tianwa Yang plays with unflagging gusto and, in music that can turn kitschy, taste. Now is usually the time we get to say something condescending, like “She’s no Heifetz, or Perlman,” but the truth is that she doesn’t suffer at all from the comparison. She’s an excellent artist, one whose musicality and passion speak for themselves, and she can hold her own against anyone. The only caveat stems from the proficient but somewhat too polite accompaniments provided by the SWR ensemble under Pieter-Jelle de Boer, as well as the less than glittering sonics. Not bad, mind you, and probably as good as we have right to expect for such rare repertoire, but it could have been better still. If you don’t know this music, you should hear this.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

The Concerto Italiano is not the breezy, pseudo-Victorian piece that its title might suggest; indeed, it is rather a melancholic work. I profeti is a rather more lively and colorful work, its glittering, singing lines certainly bring a resonant response both from soloist Tianwa Yang and the SWR Symphony Orchestra. – Gramophone Read less

Works on This Recording

Concerto for Violin no 2, Op. 66 "The Prophets" by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
Performer:  Tianwa Yang (Violin)
Conductor:  Pieter-Jelle De Boer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  SWR Baden-Baden and Freiburg Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931; Florence, Italy 
Concerto Italiano by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
Performer:  Tianwa Yang (Violin)
Conductor:  Pieter-Jelle De Boer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  SWR Baden-Baden and Freiburg Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 Outstanding! March 28, 2015 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "I so enjoy this disk that I am tempted to say it could be a contender for Recording of the Year- a beautiful, lush presentation by Tianwa Yang and Germany's SWR Symphony Orchestra Baden Baden and Freiburg of two works for violin and orchestra by Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. Although I frequently get carried away in my use of superlatives in these Arkivmusic commentaries, in this cases I think these remarks might actually understate the case. The Concerto Italiano is an early work (1924), but already demonstrates the composer's imaginative blending of orchestral colors and exquisitely detailed violin solo work. Then there is the substantial Violin Concerto # 2, subtitled 'The Prophets,'reflecting Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Jewish roots. This majestic composition has everything- intricate, lyrical solo work, powerful orchestral support, and a strong sense of momentum and movement. I don't think much more needs to be added about the technical and artistic excellence of Tianwa Yang than has already been said. Her work with literally any type of material- chamber, recital, orchestral- is quickly vaulting her to international superstar status. In this case, her performance as soloist is lifted to near Olympian heights by the sumptuous sound of Baden Baden's superb orchestra. All in all, this recording falls into the audiophile demonstration class, and I am here to tell you that you are likely to be enthralled and 'hooked' when you hear it. Great material, superb recording, an exciting listening experience. Don't miss it!!" Report Abuse
 Two worthwhile violin concertos March 20, 2015 By Dean Frey See All My Reviews "The young Castelnuovo-Tedesco begins his Concerto Italiano for Violin and Orchestra with not one but two splendid themes, but the musical material in the first movement outstays its welcome before the end of its 15-1/2 minutes. This reminded me of Clover Adams’ witty but not at all unkind reference to Henry James, who, she said, chewed more than he had bitten off. Tightening up that first movement would bring better balance to the concerto, which continues with a slight but lovely, schmaltzy Arioso, and ends with an “impetuous” swirl. This is youthful music, fresh and frothy, and it is well presented, in a world premiere recording, by violinist Tianwa Yang, the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden Baden ind Freiburg, and conductor Pieter-Jelle de Boer. The second Violin Concerto, written seven years later, is more technically assured, but drier and more erudite. It has a serious program, with its subtitle ‘The Prophets’ and its use of traditional Jewish melodies. It is more reticent than the first concerto, and more thoughtful, even pensive. Tully Potter says in his excellent liner notes “a slight aura of the cinema hangs about” the second concerto, and coincidentally I was reminded of Erich Korngold’s soundtrack-inspired Violin Concerto, written decades after these two works. Neither of the Castelnuovo-Tedesco violin concertos is at level of Korngold’s, but both deserve to be played much more often than they have in the past. They’ve been given the best possible advocacy by Tianwa Yang and everyone involved in this excellent release." Report Abuse
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