Hungarian violinist Antal Szalai's thoughtful musicianship and consummate technical command are evident in every bar of the four works that encompass this impressive unaccompanied recital. He builds each of the Bach D minor Partita's movements from the bottom up, leaning into the lowest notes both for harmonic emphasis and to propel the composer's dance-oriented rhythms. The Chaconne is on the slow side, but rivetingly sustained. Notice the wide dynamic range plus a keen ear for color and textural variety that informs the Ysaÿe, as well as the dark dignity Szalai brings to the Kreisler Recitativo (although the subsequent Scherzo-Caprice could use slightly more lightness and charm).
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Emil Petrovics' Rhapsody intersperses stark, pianissimo repeated notes (both pizzicato and bowed) with melodic cells that, when lyrical, evoke the gloomier side of late Shostakovich. On the other hand, when fast, the pianissimo repeated notes take their cue from the asymmetrical rhythmic élan typical of Bartók's folk-inspired dance movements. Although the work's soft pizzicato ending seems a bit premature, a performance of greater care and conviction would be hard to imagine, and I look forward to hearing this gifted young player (he's in his very early 20s) again soon. He's got it all. [5/10/2003]
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less