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Great Violin Concertos


Release Date: 04/24/2012 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8501058   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Antonio VivaldiJohann Sebastian BachWolfgang Amadeus MozartLouis Spohr,   ... 
Performer:  Takako NishizakiSimone LamsmaIlya KalerMisha Keylin,   ... 
Conductor:  Stephen GunzenhauserOliver DohnányiPatrick GalloisKenneth Jean,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella IstropolitanaSinfonia FinlandiaSlovak Philharmonic Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 10 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 11 Hours 27 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

GREAT VIOLIN CONCERTOS (10-CD Box Set)

The essence of a concerto is the contrast and combination of a solo instrument with a larger instrumental ensemble. Having developed out of the Baroque concept of concerto grosso, the concerto genre was fully established in the eighteenth century, and many works dating from this period are still a key part of the repertoire today. The opportunity for virtuosic display from the soloist has resulted in the concerto becoming a vital musical force on the concert platform.

The violin concerto owes a great deal of its development to the technical achievement of performers, and to this day many works are renowned for their fierce technical demands. Indeed, many composers who have
Read more written for the instrument were superlative players themselves—Wieniawski and Paganini among them. The fascinating history and capabilities of the instrument can be traced through the compositions contained herein; from the gossamer threads of Vivaldi to the exhilarating fireworks of Prokofiev, via the lilting swagger of Lalo and Saint-Saëns and nationalistic panache of Sibelius and Glazunov.

Reviews of some of the original recordings that make up this set:

Spohr: Concerto no 8
"Louis Spohr, once considered to hold a place among the greatest composers of his era, subsequently fell into a gray oblivion, only to be resurrected several times during the 20th century. Although his compositional output might have been more encompassing than those of many of his fellow violinist-composers, he may for practical purposes remain in contention principally for the honor of being one of the greatest of them rather than one of the greatest of composers in general.

The Eighth Concerto, written for Italian audiences, depends more heavily on Italianate forms and procedures. It’s soaring aria-like slow movement, its showy finale, and, most of all, its extended first movement recitative—all three encrusted with breathtaking ornamentation—provide a violinist with an ideal showcase. Heifetz, like Ethel Merman, could belt a tune in a way that defied audiences not to listen, and he played this Concerto, cutting down the tuttis, as he often did, with irresistible authority. Spohr denigrated Paganini’s manner of producing staccato off the string, and though Heifetz’s flying staccato, which he claimed to have had difficulty mastering, became one of his trademarks, he could electrify audiences with Spohr’s more solid staccatos on the string, so many passages of which adorn this Concerto. Albert Spalding’s recording of the work appealed to many who may have considered Heifetz’s a bit over the top, but it’s hardly as visceral; and, more recently, neither Uto Ughi (Dynamic 522, 31:1) nor Hilary Hahn (Deutsche Grammophon 000718802, 30:3) could recreate that magic. Though not nearly as confident as Heifetz, Lamsma still generates high voltage in, for example, the slow movement’s fast episode, and she plays with congenial sensitivity in the Adagio’s main sections. And unlike Heifetz, who succumbed to the temptation to add thirds to the last movement’s passages (as his teacher, Auer, did in Tchaikovsky’s cadenza to his Violin Concerto), she makes a case for it even while playing it straight. The Sixth Concerto’s misterioso returns enhanced in the 11th, which begins with an Adagio introduction that, if it’s not the Wolf’s Glen scene, may be the closest thing violinists have, and that introduces a main theme that postures squarely but stylishly as do some of Schumann’s melodic ideas. Warsop suggests that this Concerto might profitably be revived; it’s lucky that a sympathetic violinist like Lamsma has done so. Here’s a worthy counterpart to Bruch’s concertos (listeners might notice a similarity between the style of writing for the violin in Spohr’s concertos and in the first movement of Bruch’s Third) and a worthy champion. Listeners and would-be aficionados of Spohr may still find it a sort of stumbling block to full admiration that so many of Spohr’s harmonic turns and violinistic passages sound all too familiar—the 11th Concerto’s finale, for example, suggests, however obliquely, the Duo, op. 67/2. Violinist-composers have a notoriously hard time not following their fingers’ lead. Naxos’s program of Spohr concertos deserves a hearing for the young soloist’s’ bravado tempered with sensibility as well as for the orchestra’s generally sympathetic and competent accompaniment. But above all, it stands out for its version of the once famous Gesangszene, as it’s often called, perhaps the best after Heifetz’s—and, with Lamsma’s personal approach, a creditable alternative. Many violinists don’t have a sufficiently strong personality to project Spohr’s; Lamsma already does."

Paganini: Concerto no 1
"lya Kaler is a Russian virtuoso (born in Moscow in 1963), a pupil of Leonid Kogan and a very good player, too. Paganini's once fiendish pyrotechnics hold no terrors for him, not even the whistling harmonics, and how nicely he can turn an Italianate lyrical phrase, as in the secondary theme of the first movement of the First Concerto. Then he can set off with panache into a flying staccato, bouncing his bow neatly on the strings when articulating the delicious spiccato finales of both works. Stephen Gunzenhauser launches into the opening movements with plenty of energy and aplomb and is a sympathetic accompanist throughout—he is never heavy in orchestral writing that can easily sound vapid or stodgy...Kaler's intonation is above suspicion and he is naturally balanced: there is none of the scratchiness that can ruin one's pleasure in Paganinian pyrotechnics."

-- I.M., Gramophone

Dvorak and Glazunov Concertos
"Kaler’s playing of these Romantic, sweetly-tuned works is excellent. His technique copes more than adequately with the technical demands of the Glazunov, a composer considered bourgeois in post-1917 Russia and dealt an uncharitable blow here by a critic who said he led Russian music in a comfortable decline into ignominious mediocrity. Not so, his work deserves as high a profile as Dvorák’s whose concerto is sympathetically presented."

-- Christopher Fifield , BBC Music Magazine

Vieuxtemps: Concerto no 5
"Keylin...plays the concerto as a grand dramatic statement, with a largeness of conception that may not be altogether fashionable—but then, neither is the concerto, and there’s really no better way to play it if you’re going to play it at all. He takes advantage, as he does in all the concertos, of Vieuxtemps’s singing passages on all four strings, finding the appropriate individuality for each on the 1715 Baron Knoop Stradivari, lent to him for the performances. If his passagework lacks Heifetz’s or Kogan’s effortlessness, his sense of the pieces’ perfect adaptation to their medium, together with his big sound and serious approach to works all too often dismissed as trivial, make adequate amends."

-- Robert Maxham, Fanfare
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Works on This Recording

1. Concertos (4) for Violin, Op. 8 no 1-4 "Four seasons" by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Takako Nishizaki (Violin)
Conductor:  Stephen Gunzenhauser
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Istropolitana
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1725; Venice, Italy 
Date of Recording: 7/1987 
Venue:  Slovak Philharmonic Hall, Bratislava 
2. Concerto for Violin in E major, Op. 8 no 1/RV 269 "Primavera" by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Takako Nishizaki (Violin)
Conductor:  Stephen Gunzenhauser
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Istropolitana
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1725; Venice, Italy 
Date of Recording: 7/1987 
Venue:  Slovak Philharmonic Hall, Bratislava 
Length: 10 Minutes 20 Secs. 
3. Concerto for Violin in G minor, Op. 8 no 2/RV 315 "L'estate" by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Takako Nishizaki (Violin)
Conductor:  Stephen Gunzenhauser
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Istropolitana
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1725; Venice, Italy 
Date of Recording: 7/1987 
Venue:  Slovak Philharmonic Hall, Bratislava 
Length: 10 Minutes 54 Secs. 
4. Concerto for Violin in F major, Op. 8 no 3/RV 293 "L'autunno" by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Takako Nishizaki (Violin)
Conductor:  Stephen Gunzenhauser
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Istropolitana
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1725; Venice, Italy 
Date of Recording: 7/1987 
Venue:  Slovak Philharmonic Hall, Bratislava 
Length: 10 Minutes 42 Secs. 
5. Concerto for Violin in F minor, Op. 8 no 4/RV 297 "L'inverno" by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Takako Nishizaki (Violin)
Conductor:  Stephen Gunzenhauser
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Istropolitana
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1725; Venice, Italy 
Date of Recording: 7/1987 
Venue:  Slovak Philharmonic Hall, Bratislava 
Length: 8 Minutes 51 Secs. 
6. Concerto for Violin no 1 in A minor, BWV 1041 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Takako Nishizaki (Violin)
Conductor:  Oliver Dohnányi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Istropolitana
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1717-1723; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 1989 
Venue:  Slovak Phil Concert Hall, Bratislava 
Length: 14 Minutes 32 Secs. 
7. Concerto for Violin no 2 in E major, BWV 1042 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Takako Nishizaki (Violin)
Conductor:  Oliver Dohnányi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Istropolitana
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1717-1723; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 1989 
Venue:  Slovak Phil Concert Hall, Bratislava 
Length: 18 Minutes 25 Secs. 
8. Concerto for Violin no 5 in A major, K 219 "Turkish" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Takako Nishizaki (Violin)
Conductor:  Stephen Gunzenhauser
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Istropolitana
Written: 1775 
Date of Recording: 6/1987 
Venue:  Slovak Philharmonic Concert Hall 
9. Concerto for Violin no 4 in D major, K 218 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Takako Nishizaki (Violin)
Conductor:  Stephen Gunzenhauser
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Istropolitana
Period: Classical 
Written: 1775 
Date of Recording: 1989 
Venue:  Moyzes Hall, Bratislava, Czechoslovakia 
10. Concerto for Violin no 8 in A minor, Op. 47 "in modo di scena cantante" by Louis Spohr
Performer:  Simone Lamsma (Violin)
Conductor:  Patrick Gallois
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sinfonia Finlandia
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1816; Leipzig, Germany 
11. Concerto for Violin no 3 in G major, K 216 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Takako Nishizaki (Violin)
Conductor:  Stephen Gunzenhauser
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Istropolitana
Period: Classical 
Written: 1775; Salzburg, Austria 
Date of Recording: 6/1987 
Venue:  Slovak Philharmonic Concert Hall 
12. Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 35 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Takako Nishizaki (Violin)
Conductor:  Kenneth Jean
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Russia 
Date of Recording: 7/1988 
Venue:  Slovak Philharmonic Hall, Bratislava 
Length: 37 Minutes 43 Secs. 
13. Concerto for Violin in E minor, Op. 64 by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Takako Nishizaki (Violin)
Conductor:  Kenneth Jean
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; Germany 
Date of Recording: 7/1988 
Venue:  Slovak Philharmonic Hall, Bratislava 
Length: 29 Minutes 36 Secs. 
14. Concerto for Violin in D major, Op. 77 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Takako Nishizaki (Violin)
Conductor:  Stephen Gunzenhauser
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878; Austria 
15. Concerto for Violin no 1 in G minor, Op. 26 by Max Bruch
Performer:  Takako Nishizaki (Violin)
Conductor:  Stephen Gunzenhauser
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868; Germany 
16. Concerto for Violin no 1 in D major, Op. 6 by Niccolò Paganini
Performer:  Ilya Kaler (Violin)
Conductor:  Stephen Gunzenhauser
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Polish Radio/TV Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1817 
Date of Recording: 9/1992 
Venue:  Concert Hall, Polish Radio, Katowice 
Length: 36 Minutes 12 Secs. 
17. Concerto for Violin no 5 in A minor, Op. 37 "Grétry" by Henri Vieuxtemps
Performer:  Misha Keylin (Violin)
Conductor:  Andrew Mogrelia
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1861; Belgium 
18. Concerto for Violin in A minor, Op. 53 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Ilya Kaler (Violin)
Conductor:  Camilla Kolchinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Katowice Polish Radio/TV Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879-1880; Bohemia 
Date of Recording: 03/1994 
Venue:  Polish Radio Concert Hall, Katowice 
Length: 29 Minutes 49 Secs. 
19. Concerto for Violin in A minor, Op. 82 by Alexander Glazunov
Performer:  Ilya Kaler (Violin)
Conductor:  Camilla Kolchinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Polish Radio/TV Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Russia 
Date of Recording: 03/1994 
Venue:  Polish Radio Concert Hall, Katowice 
Length: 20 Minutes 11 Secs. 
20. Concerto for Violin no 1 in A minor, Op. 77 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Ilya Kaler (Violin)
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra Katowice
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USSR 
Date of Recording: 01/1996 
Venue:  Concert Hall, Katowice, Poland 
21. Concerto for Violin no 3 in B minor, Op. 61 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Dong-Suk Kang (Violin)
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Katowice Polish Radio/TV Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; France 
Date of Recording: 05/1993 
Venue:  Concert Hall, Polish Radio, Katowice 
Length: 27 Minutes 34 Secs. 
22. Concerto for Violin in B minor, Op. 61 by Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  Dong-Suk Kang (Violin)
Conductor:  Adrian Leaper
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Katowice Polish Radio/TV Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1909-1910; England 
Date of Recording: 04/1991 
Venue:  Concert Hall, Polish Radio, Katowice 
Length: 45 Minutes 38 Secs. 
23. Concerto for Violin in D minor, Op. 47 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Henning Kraggerud (Violin)
Conductor:  Bjarte Engeset
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903-1905; Finland 
24. Concerto for Violin no 2 in D minor, Op. 22 by Henri Wieniawski
Performer:  Marat Bisengaliev (Violin)
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra Katowice
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1862; St. Petersburg, Russ 
Date of Recording: 08/1995 
25. Symphonie espagnole, Op. 21 by Edouard Lalo
Performer:  Marat Bisengaliev (Violin)
Conductor:  Johannes Wildner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873; France 
26. Concerto for Violin no 1 in D major, Op. 19 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Tedi Papavrami (Violin)
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra Katowice
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1916-1917; Russia 
Date of Recording: 01/1996 
Venue:  Concert Hall, Polish Radio, Katowice 

Sound Samples

The 4 Seasons: Violin Concerto in E major, Op. 8, No. 1, RV 269, "La primavera" (Spring): I. Allegro
The 4 Seasons: Violin Concerto in E major, Op. 8, No. 1, RV 269, "La primavera" (Spring): II. Largo e pianissimo sempre
The 4 Seasons: Violin Concerto in E major, Op. 8, No. 1, RV 269, "La primavera" (Spring): III. Danza Pastorale (Allegro)
The 4 Seasons: Violin Concerto in G minor, Op. 8, No. 2, RV 315, "L'estate" (Summer): I. Allegro non molto
The 4 Seasons: Violin Concerto in G minor, Op. 8, No. 2, RV 315, "L'estate" (Summer): II. Adagio - Presto
The 4 Seasons: Violin Concerto in G minor, Op. 8, No. 2, RV 315, "L'estate" (Summer): III. Presto
The 4 Seasons: Violin Concerto in F major, Op. 8, No. 3, RV 293, "L'autunno" (Autumn): I. Allegro
The 4 Seasons: Violin Concerto in F major, Op. 8, No. 3, RV 293, "L'autunno" (Autumn): II. Adagio molto
The 4 Seasons: Violin Concerto in F major, Op. 8, No. 3, RV 293, "L'autunno" (Autumn): III. Allegro
The 4 Seasons: Violin Concerto in F minor, Op. 8, No. 4, RV 297, "L'inverno" (Winter): I. Allegro non molto
The 4 Seasons: Violin Concerto in F minor, Op. 8, No. 4, RV 297, "L'inverno" (Winter): II. Largo
The 4 Seasons: Violin Concerto in F minor, Op. 8, No. 4, RV 297, "L'inverno" (Winter): III. Allegro
Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041: I. Allegro
Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041: II. Andante
Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041: III. Allegro assai
Violin Concerto in E major, BWV 1042: I. Allegro
Violin Concerto in E major, BWV 1042: II. Adagio
Violin Concerto in E major, BWV 1042: III. Allegro assai
Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major, K. 218: I. Allegro
Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major, K. 218: II. Andante cantabile
Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major, K. 218: III. Rondeau: Andante grazioso - Allegro ma non troppo
Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, K. 219, "Turkish": I. Allegro aperto
Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, K. 219, "Turkish": II. Adagio
Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, K. 219, "Turkish": III. Tempo di menuetto
Violin Concerto No. 8 in A minor, Op. 47, "in modo di scena cantante": I. Recitative: Allegro molto -
Violin Concerto No. 8 in A minor, Op. 47, "in modo di scena cantante": II. Adagio - Recitative: Andante -
Violin Concerto No. 8 in A minor, Op. 47, "in modo di scena cantante": III. Allegro moderato

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