Young violinist Tianwa Yang has exceptional technique, and her vision in the great E minor concerto is unfailingly intelligent. The first movement is taken a touch on the slow side, giving the music added weight and seriousness. In the finale, too, Yang refuses to rush or indulge in empty showmanship, while the Andante’s singing melodies do just that. If there is any down side to her interpretation, it is this: older, wiser violinists such as Nathan Milstein shape the many moments of passagework to more purposeful effect, just as a masterful singer understands that coloratura expresses virtuosity but also can be phrased and articulated so as to heighten the emotion and intensity of the phrase. Yang isn’t quite in that league yet, but thereRead more is absolutely nothing wrong with the playing as such. The accompaniments, similarly, won’t compare to the best versions featuring major orchestras, but they offer distinguished contributions nonetheless.
What makes this disc such a smart one, though, is the inclusion of the youthful D minor concerto and the F minor violin sonata. Most Mendelssohn discs couple another major violin concerto (usually Bruch’s or Tchaikovsky’s), and God knows we don’t need another recording of those works any more than we need another Mendelssohn E minor concerto. Both youthful works are vintage early Mendelssohn, and he was not a composer who invariably got better with age. Yang plays them very well indeed, and there’s far less competition here than in the more famous companion pieces. Pianist Romain Descharmes accompanies very sympathetically, and both in the concertos and the sonata the engineering is very clean and well-balanced. In sum, the couplings make this disc worth acquiring even if you’d never think of buying another version of the E minor concerto. As for Yang, she remains an artist to watch.
Fast and clean, but detachedJanuary 11, 2017By Manuel Pagan (Richmond, TX)See All My Reviews"Ms Wang plays fast and clean concerto, while the Sinfonia Finlandia is somewhat subdued and in the background. I wished for more emotional energy in the finale, which is very fast but feels strangely detached especially at the end of the final cadenza just before the coda. The exact opposite of this concerto, played by Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, is still my favorite."Report Abuse
RefreshingApril 25, 2013By David R. (Pine, CO)See All My Reviews"What a pairing this is: Yang and Gallois. They are marvelous in the early concerto, bringing real life and a sense of purpose to it. They actually elevate this youthful concerto to a significance nearly to that of the famous e minor concerto! And in that celebrated concerto, the first movement is just a little slack for my taste. They emphasize the 'molto appassionato' marking more than the 'Allegro' indication. But the 3rd movement springs to life; rarely have the orchestral winds been so perfectly in sync with the violin. And how delightful it is when the conductor actually cares enough to make it happen. (Ozawa did it just as well with Isaac Stern in their 1981 CBS recording.) Yang adds a series of extra ornamentation here and there, which may raise some eyebrows. But honestly, it amounts to just a touch of filigree and sounds delightful and oddly "right". It's almost as if Mendelssohn wrote it that way and Yang has made the discovery! Of course, that's not the case (no need to run for your score to look), but it is something to be aware of and simply enjoy it when you hear it. Excellent Naxos sound too - the violin perfectly placed in the acoustic with the excellent chamber orchestra. I haven't enjoyed the Mendelssohn violin concertos this much in years."Report Abuse