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Notes and Editorial Reviews
Chang's Lalo takes pride of place on nearly all counts, while the Vieuxtemps coupling is also second to none. Such maturity in so young an artist is astonishing.
Vieuxtemps's Fifth Violin Concerto opens disarmingly, but the tutti gathers strength in Dutoit's hands before Chang steals in silkily (at 2'04") and proceeds to dominate the performance with her warm lyricism and natural, flowing rubato. The gentle solo appearance of the main lyrical theme (4'57") is a delicious moment and its return towards the end of the movement is even more magical (8'47"). After the totally commanding cadenza the Adagio introduces another charming idea, in fact a purloined air by Gretry, "On peut-on etre mieux qu'au
sein de sa famille?" which fits nicely, when presented with a simple, ravishing line and decorated with such unostentatious élan; Chang's exquisite reprise of the main phrase (221") reminds the listener how much it has in ment. The last movement is incredibly brief (1'12") and is dispatched with captivating dash by Chang. Perhaps Vieuxtemps made a mistake in not extending it more; if he had, his concerto might have stood alongside the Mendelssohn in popular esteem. As it is, in a performance like this it remains a small-scale work to cherish, for it hasn't a dull bar. The recording is warm and full, the balance treating the relationship between the violin and the excellent Philharmonia Orchestra as an equal partnership.
Lalo's Symphonie espagnole is altogether more ambitious, as befitting its portentous title, but the composer's inventive Spanishry holds up well throughout the five movements. How attractive is the Concertgebouw acoustic for the fanfare-like opening — giving it weight as well as point. Again Dutoit's approach is full of impetus so that when the malaguefia secondary theme arrives, presented with a special feminine allure, it makes a shimmering contrast. The movement moves forward with great vigour, the solo playing is dazzling, and a gentle sensuousfrisson accompanies the return of the enticing secondary idea (6'15"). The Scherzo brings more delicate dance evocations, this time a seguidilla, while in the "Intermezzo" — with Dutoit again bouncing the orchestral rhythms buoyantly—Sarah Chang changes roles for the corruscatingly brilliant Carmen-like habanera. The slow movement (with sonorous Concertgebouw brass) opens sombrely, and gives the soloist a chance to relish a songful melody, Tchaikovskian in its melancholy ardour but with a characterful rhythmic snap. The delicious piping woodwind crescendo and decrescendo which begins the finale (my own favourite movement) sets the scene for scintillating salterello fireworks from the soloist, with Dutoit's spirited orchestral interjections adding to the fun, and the solo lyrical interludes as seductive as ever. The dash into the home straight brings vociferous applause, which makes one realize that the concentration and spontaneity of the performance has been helped by the presence of an audience, who haven't been apparent until now. And certainly the splendidly resonant Concertgebouw sound and nigh perfect balance would never have given the game away that this was not a recording made under studio conditions. There are of course other fine versions of the Lalo (Perlman—slightly let down by rather dry orchestral sound—and Mintz, for instance). But this new version takes pride of place on nearly all counts, while the Vieuxtemps coupling is also second to none. And such natural maturity in so young an artist continues to astonish.
-- Gramophone [5/1996]
Works on This Recording
Symphonie espagnole, Op. 21 by Edouard Lalo
Sarah Chang (Violin)
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Written: 1873; France
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Phenom shines July 31, 2013
By J. Spaulding (Villa Hills, KY) See All My Reviews
"Sarah Chang was only 14 when she recorded these concerts. The Vieuxtemps in London in Dec. 1994 and the Lalo in Amsterdam in Jan. 1995 yet one would never guess this as her playing is full of emotion and finesse that more mature artists would envy. Dutoit conducts both orchestras, the Philharmonia in London and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam equally well. This is a fine rendition of this music and anyone wishing a stellar recording would do well to purchase this one. Recorded sound is excellent with no extraneous background sounds from the audience in these live recordings. Recommended."