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Beethoven: Violin Concerto, Etc / Faust, Et Al

Release Date: 09/11/2007 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 901944   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Isabelle FaustAlexander Melnikov
Conductor:  Jiří Bělohlávek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Isabelle Faust plays this concerto with plenty of personality. While her initial entrance sounds just a touch affected, from there on her resinous tone and fearless passagework produce a reading of uncommon energy, without ever compromising Beethoven's basically lyrical inspiration. You'll be particularly taken with her cadenzas. In the first movement she includes solo timpani as did Beethoven himself in his transcription of the work for piano and orchestra, while Faust's transition between the Adagio and the Finale has to be one of the most compelling and effective on disc. Tempos throughout are ideal.

The Prague Philharmonia under Jirí Belohlávek accompanies beautifully--not just where we might expect (the
Read more woodwinds), but in the detailed rhythmic underpinning that permits Faust to really float Beethoven's melodies. Consider, for example, the unobtrusive clarity of the triplet rhythm beneath the first movement's second subject, or the measured tremolos propelling the canonic cadence theme that closes the exposition. It's really a pleasure to hear such a close collaboration between soloist and conductor, and it works like a charm. Only Faust's occasional tendency, previously mentioned, to underline a phrase too heavily prevents this rendition from attainting virtual perfection.

I have no such reservations concerning the Kreutzer Sonata. This performance smokes. Faust and Melnikov blast their way through the first movement with seat-of-the-pants excitement. The long, central variation movement sounds about half its usual length in a reading of high contrasts and unflagging spirit, while the finale will leave you breathless, precisely because the phrasing and articulation are not. Given the obviously different challenges presented to the engineers, the sonics in both works are extremely clear, well-balanced, and natural. This is a lovely disc that will make a memorable impression, even if you already own 40 or 50 versions of each work.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 61 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Isabelle Faust (Violin)
Conductor:  Jiří Bělohlávek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
Sonata for Violin and Piano no 9 in A major, Op. 47 "Kreutzer" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Alexander Melnikov (Piano), Isabelle Faust (Violin)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1802-1803; Vienna, Austria 

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