You could argue the wisdom of producing an hour-long program of nothing but short, relatively light violin encore pieces--a kind of contradiction in terms; or, you could just as easily propose that there’s no better place than a CD to contain a collection of these little gems, all in one place, to savor at will. As you listen to these unfailingly engaging, often dazzling, always tasteful and personable performances, chances are good that you’ll opt for the latter point of view, the same as you would hearing a first class singer stride through a set of well-loved tunes--no matter that you’ve heard them a thousand times before. Violinist Mela Tenenbaum and her simpatico accompanist Richard Kapp certainly touch the memories here for anyoneRead more who’s played the violin or heard any of the great virtuosos of the past century. Several of the 24 selections on this recording from 1995 read like a greatest hits list--Elgar’s Salut d’amour, Kreisler’s Liebeslied, Rubinstein’s Romance, Dvorák’s Valcik--but there also are many more lesser-known pieces that add immensely to the program’s interest and value for multiple listening sessions. Tenenbaum’s experience as a solo performer shows in her air of easy confidence, mature technical and interpretive reflexes, and ability to project personality that’s consistent with the essential character of the music.
My only complaint is that I wish she would loosen up even more, play with the music--and her audience--with a little extra twinkle in the eye or devilment in the smile. In fact, she shows just how capable she is at such spirited treatment in the two Gypsy-influenced pieces by Grigoras Dinicu that end the program. Like all good performers, Tenenbaum wows us and leaves us wanting more. She’s aided not only by Kapp’s solid support (you can tell that they’ve played these pieces together many times), but also by the robust, singing tone of her “General Kyd” Strad--the same one used by Itzhak Perlman during the 1970s and ‘80s. The sound is detailed and balanced with the violin to the fore. Although I wouldn’t be without my reference versions listed above--not only for the repertoire but especially for the variety of great violinists they feature--but this one will hold a worthy place right alongside.
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
"Tenenbaum plays stylishly and with great versatility, as she can capture the low-key sweetness of Gossec and Delibes and the far more hot-blooded idiom of Dinicu, represented here by his original version, not Heifetz’s, of Hora staccato, and by a piece which heavily mines a theme prominent in Enesco’s Romanian Rhapsody No. 1. Tenenbaum contrives here to sound like a real Gypsy – when I call her “versatile” it is worth pointing out that she has also recorded Bach and Locatelli for this label. This is excellent virtuoso playing in a choice of encores as clever as it is adventurous."
--David K. Nelson – Fanfare, September/October 1996
What one has here is a superbly played set of 24 short Romantic encore pieces, stylishly played by violinist Mela Tenenbaum and pianist Richard Kapp. They manage to be charming as well as bravura through these enormously entertaining bagatelles on a disc designed to delight. It’s like hearing your way through a box of really fine chocolates.
There’s a great mix of brilliant character pieces with a few nostalgic works which were once at the top of popularity lists. Sentimental items – Mendelssohn’s Song without Words, Elgar’s Salut d’amour and such – are played with dignity as well as elegance. Virtuoso pieces are equally convincing. Tenenbaum’s refined spiccato bowing during the Gossec Tambourin is spectacular. The swagger during Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 7, for example, couuld charm the bark off oak trees. Still, there are pieces that can nearly bring tears to the eyes…Kreisler’s Liebesleid or Dvorak’s Valcik.
It adds up to a wonderfully relaxing set of works, performed to the tens and superbly recorded. Highly recommended for the disc’s lack of pretension as much as its skillful presentation of deserving repertoire.