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Kreisler, Paganini, Sarasate, Wieniawski / Vengerov


Release Date: 01/11/2005 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 57916   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Henri WieniawskiNiccolò PaganiniFritz KreislerSergei Rachmaninov,   ... 
Performer:  Ian BrownMaxim Vengerov
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 12 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews


This entertaining and smashingly played recital focuses on the music of Wieniawski, opening with a dazzling performance of his Variations on an Original Theme Op. 15, continues with a scintillating trip through the two Polonaises brillantes Opp. 4 and 21, and concludes with a joyous romp in the form of the popular Scherzo-tarantelle Op. 16. Interspersed we find Vengerov hamming it up a bit in Paganini's Cantabile in D, Kreisler's Liebeslied and Liebesfreund, Rachmaninov's inevitable Vocalise (some very sensitive playing here), and perhaps most interesting, Kreisler's arrangement of the celebrated 18th variation from Rachmaninov's Paganini Rhapsody. There's also Sarasate's Introduction et tarantelle Op. 43, which
Read more helps to give the program a nice sense of balance and cross-referencing among the various composers.


The odd man out here is John Williams' Theme from Schindler's List, an obvious bid at sales that while understandable, does sort of disrupt the program's overall thematic integrity. Still, all of this music is played with such panache by Vengerov (ably accompanied by pianist Ian Brown) that it seems churlish to complain. Vengerov also (for my money anyway) saves the best for last: Ysaÿe's Caprice after the Etude in the Form of a Waltz by C. Saint-Saëns. Yes, the title is almost as long as the work, but it's as lovely and charming as the piece on which it's based, and it brings this very well-executed recital to a rousing close. The engineering gives the players some welcome breathing room, permitting Vengerov's lithe tone, with its seductive, fast vibrato, to emerge vividly from the speakers while still observing a good balance with the piano. A superb disc, by a major artist.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

Fanfare Magazine
Unlike a number of other young violinists, Maxim Vengerov hasn’t shied away from the showpieces by violinist-composers that had for a time become almost taboo on recital programs. In fact, only John Williams and Sergei Rachmaninoff, among the composers represented on Vengerov’s compilation with pianist Ian Brown, didn’t or don’t play the violin. In his willingness to program such miniatures, Vengerov recalls his predecessors, who had to satisfy the tastes of mixed audiences if they hoped to include provincial cities as well as musical capitols on their concert tours (not that those in the capitols at that time always sneered at virtuosic display). And in the dash and élan he brings to these miniatures, he surpasses many of those who once routinely programmed them, approaching both Heifetz’s sizzling electricity and Milstein’s aristocratic elegance. In Wieniawski’s Variations, for example, Vengerov reveals even sharper technical edges than might seem characteristic of that composer’s passagework. Yet he damps his fire to explore Kreisler’s more genial, not to say sentimental, milieu. In sheer adaptability, he surpasses Heifetz, who, although he could find congenial material in a wide range of styles, hardly played Kreisler, for example, in a way that might be described as gemütlich (his strong personality could crush delicate blossoms). Heifetz also avoided much of the contemporary literature, such as Shostakovich’s First Concerto, with which Vengerov has earned acclaim. Extending his expressive range in this way must come with a price: Heifetz always sounded like Heifetz; his manner of tone production left no doubt of his identity after even a single note. Others, like Milstein and even Oistrakh, required a longer period to create an individual impression. But beyond the ultra-high tension of his technical passages, Vengerov doesn’t leave so explicit a trace. That may be why he seems more easily recognizable in soaring works like Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise (as well as in technical barnburners like Wieniawski’s polonaises and Wieniawski’s and Sarasate’s tarantellas—also Milstein specialties) than in Kreisler’s more atmospheric evocations—though he’s almost equally effective in them. Of course, Heifetz and Vengerov (and, to a degree, Francescatti) risk wearing out listeners in series of short works (as might drinking continuously from a fire hose). That’s not to say, though, that the individual readings in Vengerov’s collection aren’t the last word in stylish recreation and breathtaking panache. In fact, each of them demands special commendation, Milstein’s and Heifetz’s Wieniawski and Sarasate, Kreisler’s own Kreisler and Oistrakh’s Ysaÿe notwithstanding. Ian Brown complements Vengerov’s dramatic oratory and the recorded sound reveals the personalities of the instruments as well as those of the instrumentalists.

Today’s aficionados of the violin can greet Vengerov releases with the same eager anticipation as those of earlier generations awaited those of Heifetz, Milstein, Francescatti, Oistrakh, and Stern. In an age characterized by a sort of scholarly blandness, that’s saying a mouthful. But then, so does Vengerov.

Robert Maxham, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

1. Variations for Violin on an original theme, Op. 15 by Henri Wieniawski
Performer:  Ian Brown (Piano), Maxim Vengerov (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1854; Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 09/2004 
Venue:  Air Studios, Lyndhurst Hall, Hampstead 
Length: 12 Minutes 48 Secs. 
2. Cantabile for Violin and Piano in D major by Niccolò Paganini
Performer:  Maxim Vengerov (Violin), Ian Brown (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1824 
Date of Recording: 09/2004 
Venue:  Air Studios, Lyndhurst Hall, Hampstead 
Length: 3 Minutes 43 Secs. 
3. Liebesleid by Fritz Kreisler
Performer:  Maxim Vengerov (Violin), Ian Brown (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/2004 
Venue:  Air Studios, Lyndhurst Hall, Hampstead 
Length: 3 Minutes 23 Secs. 
4. Transcription of Kreisler's "Liebesfreud" for piano by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Maxim Vengerov (Violin), Ian Brown (Piano)
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1921; Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/2004 
Venue:  Air Studios, Lyndhurst Hall, Hampstead 
Length: 3 Minutes 16 Secs. 
5. Polonaise brillante for Violin and Piano no 1 in D major, Op. 4 by Henri Wieniawski
Performer:  Ian Brown (Piano), Maxim Vengerov (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Russia 
Date of Recording: 09/2004 
Venue:  Air Studios, Lyndhurst Hall, Hampstead 
Length: 5 Minutes 54 Secs. 
6. Songs (14), Op. 34: no 14, Vocalise by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Maxim Vengerov (Violin), Ian Brown (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1912-1915; Russia 
Date of Recording: 09/2004 
Venue:  Air Studios, Lyndhurst Hall, Hampstead 
Length: 6 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Notes: Composition written: Russia (1912 - 1915). 
7. Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini, Op. 43: Variation 18 by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Maxim Vengerov (Violin), Ian Brown (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1934; USA 
Date of Recording: 09/2004 
Venue:  Air Studios, Lyndhurst Hall, Hampstead 
Length: 3 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Fritz Kreisler. 
8. Introduction and Tarantella, Op. 43 by Pablo de Sarasate
Performer:  Maxim Vengerov (Violin), Ian Brown (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899 
Date of Recording: 09/2004 
Venue:  Air Studios, Lyndhurst Hall, Hampstead 
Length: 5 Minutes 17 Secs. 
9. Polonaise brillante for Violin and Piano no 2 in A major, Op. 21 by Henri Wieniawski
Performer:  Maxim Vengerov (Violin), Ian Brown (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1870; St. Petersburg, Russ 
Date of Recording: 09/2004 
Venue:  Air Studios, Lyndhurst Hall, Hampstead 
Length: 9 Minutes 3 Secs. 
10. Scherzo-Tarantelle in G minor, Op. 16 by Henri Wieniawski
Performer:  Maxim Vengerov (Violin), Ian Brown (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856 
Date of Recording: 09/2004 
Venue:  Air Studios, Lyndhurst Hall, Hampstead 
Length: 4 Minutes 53 Secs. 
11. Schindler's List: Main Theme by John T. Williams
Performer:  Maxim Vengerov (Violin), Ian Brown (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993; USA 
Date of Recording: 09/2004 
Venue:  Air Studios, Lyndhurst Hall, Hampstead 
Length: 3 Minutes 59 Secs. 
12. Caprice d'après l'etude en forme de Valse de Saint-Saëns by Eugène Ysaÿe
Performer:  Ian Brown (Piano), Maxim Vengerov (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Date of Recording: 09/2004 
Venue:  Air Studios, Lyndhurst Hall, Hampstead 
Length: 8 Minutes 20 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Variations on an Original Theme
Cantabile
Liebesleid
Liebesfreud
Polonaise Brillante in D Major, Op.4
Vocalise Op. 34 No. 14 (arranged for violin & piano by Michel Press)
Eighteenth Variation from Rapsodie on a Theme of Paganini
Introduction and Tarantella Op. 43
Polonaise Brillante in A Major, Op.21
Scherzo-Tarentelle Op. 16
Theme from "Schindler's List"
Caprice d'apès l'Etude en forme de Valse de C. Saint-Säens, Op.52

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