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Bartók: Violin Concerto No 2, Rhapsodies Nos 1 & 2 / Chung


Release Date: 05/18/2007 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 54211   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Béla Bartók
Performer:  Kyung-Wha Chung
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 59 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Chung is a probing Bartokian and her poignantly expressed intelligence will doubtless prove a durable virtue.

It is rare indeed to encounter a concerto recording where the critical honours can be evenly distributed, but this Bartok Second Violin Concerto really does suggest a strong team spirit. Heard purely for its own sake, Kyung-Wha Chung's playing is sinewy, agile and occasionally a mite brittle: phrasing is always judicious, but tone production is generally less physically engaging than, say, Kyoko Takezawa's under Michael Tilson Thomas. Yet one soon realizes that every passage has been carefully thought through—the opening sequence, for example, which Chung traces as a continuous line of monologue. However, it is
Read more when soloist and conductor grapple in dialogue that the sparks really start to fly. Rattle and his players make the very most of Bartok's orchestral commentary: instrumental interplay is always alert, rhythms are keenly focused and his way of cushioning Chung, palpably convincing (try, by way of an example, the closing moments of the second movement—from, say, 9'20''). The first movement has immense dash, with dramatic tuttis and a wealth of detail busying behind and around the solo line. Time and again, I found myself jotting observations relating to dynamic shading, sensitive woodwind phrasing and the warmth of the CBSO strings (especially when playing piano—as in the opening minutes of the Andante tranquillo). The third movement hangs together well, its mirror imaging of the first convincingly presented. Rattle again displays a comprehensive understanding of Bartok's highly individual tonal palette: every component gleams and no significant detail is allowed to pass unnoticed.

The well-matched Rhapsody recordings (taped at Cheltenham Hall rather than City Hall, Birmingham) are, again, revealing. The solo line is nicely attenuated, and the overall approach one of fine-tuned improvisation. Detail is legion (note the way solo violin and woodwinds intertwine at the beginning of the Second Rhapsody's second movement) and Rattle compounds the rhapsodic idea by shaping his phrases with imaginatively applied rubato. In fact, I don't recall hearing any Hungarian performances that sound quite this idiomatic. So, it's a strong recommendation, with the sole proviso that Kyoko Takezawa has a rather more ingratiating tonal profile than Kyung-Wha Chung. However, Chung is certainly a more probing Bartokian than she was at the time of her 1977 recording of the piece, under Solti; and her poignantly expressed intelligence will doubtless prove a durable virtue.

-- Gramophone [6/1994]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Violin no 2, Sz 112 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Kyung-Wha Chung (Violin)
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937-1938; Budapest, Hungary 
Date of Recording: 07/1990 
Venue:  Cheltenham Town Hall 
Length: 38 Minutes 0 Secs. 
2.
Rhapsody for Violin and Orchestra no 1, Sz 87 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Kyung-Wha Chung (Violin)
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; Budapest, Hungary 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Birmingham 
Length: 10 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Notes: Selection recorded May and June, 1992. 
3.
Rhapsody for Violin and Orchestra no 2, Sz 90 by Béla Bartók
Performer:  Kyung-Wha Chung (Violin)
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; Budapest, Hungary 
Venue:  Symphony Hall, Birmingham 
Length: 11 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Notes: Selection recorded May and June 1992. 

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