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Sibelius, Saint Saens, Chausson / Michael Antonello, Philip Greenberg, National Symphony Orchestra Of Ukraine

Release Date: 11/01/2011 
Label:  Mja Productions   Catalog #: 40599  
Composer:  Jean SibeliusCamille Saint-SaënsErnest Chausson
Performer:  Michael Antonello
Conductor:  Philip Greenberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ukraine National Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SIBELIUS Violin Concerto. SAINT-SAENS Violin Concerto No. 3. CHAUSSON Poème Michael Antonello (vn); Philip Greenberg, cond; Ukraine Natl SO MJA PRODUCTIONS (79: 18)

Violinist Michael Antonello has with three well-known pieces jumped into competition with the greatest virtuosos on record. First of all, he deserves credit for daring to challenge lions in their den. Read more />

His first selection is the formidable violin concerto by Jean Sibelius. Choosing this concerto puts Antonello in direct competition with legendary violinists of the past, such as Jascha Heifetz and today’s top-selling virtuosos including: Itzhak Perlman, Midori, Anne-Sophie Mutter, and Hilary Hahn. Performing on his newly obtained 1742 Guarneri del Gesù, Antonello proves he can play with the best and earn a place at their table. He imbues his performance with considerably more emotion than Heifetz or Hahn. His first and last movements are slower and more expressively played than Mutter’s. He is not perfect all the time, but the sweetness of his tone, his solid ability to trill, and his open sincerity impress this listener. In the booklet Antonello says that the tone of the Guarneri is not as exquisitely beautiful as the Stradivarius on which he had previously performed, but less bow pressure is needed to produce its tone. In practice, the Guarneri lets him play with an even better technique and any difference in tone is imperceptible.

The third concerto by Camille Saint-Saens, the best-known of that composer’s works for violin, is tremendously demanding, as are his other pieces for solo instrument, and it hints at the neoclassicism that we will see with the next generation of composers. Antonello performs this dynamic concerto with precision and considerably more elegance than Cho-Liang Lin or Gil Shaham. Antonello never phones in his performance; he is present and contending for top honors with every single note. His contagious enthusiasm is the reason his interpretation surpasses that of Itzhak Perlman.

As for the Poème by Ernest Chausson, it is a great shame that we do not have more compositions from this composer. His output was not great and, unfortunately, he died in a cycling accident at a relatively early age. He studied with Massenet, whose influence can often be detected in the younger man’s compositions. Poème is just the right type of composition for Antonello’s talent; it takes instinct and expression of emotion. That is what he does best, and he does it without pulling the score out of shape. In this case he competes with Joshua Bell, who has a well-played recording from 1992 on London/Decca. Unfortunately, the sound on the older disc is seriously wanting. Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg has also recorded it, but her performance is marred by her tendency to exaggerate some aspects of the piece.

On this disc the soloist is well out in front of the orchestra in crystal-clear sound. Antonello and conductor Philip Greenberg have made a fine recording that lovers of violin music can enjoy for many years to come.

FANFARE: Maria Nockin
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Violin in D minor, Op. 47 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Michael Antonello (Violin)
Conductor:  Philip Greenberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ukraine National Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903-1905; Finland 
Concerto for Violin no 3 in B minor, Op. 61 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Michael Antonello (Violin)
Conductor:  Philip Greenberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ukraine National Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; France 
Poème for Violin and Orchestra in E flat major, Op. 25 by Ernest Chausson
Performer:  Michael Antonello (Violin)
Conductor:  Philip Greenberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ukraine National Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; France 

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