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Discussion: Dvorak, Szymanowski: Violin Concertos - Steinbacher, Janowski

Posts: 26
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Post by diw November 8, 2009 (11 of 26)
I am listening to this today, it is amazing how violinists seem to get the best recordings from Pentatone, many of their straight orchestral recordings are not as good. The cadenza on the Szymanowski is spectacular!

Now if we can only get Jared to find a new house cellist!:)

Post by skogskatt November 21, 2009 (12 of 26)
So! Hurwitz doesn't like it and neither does Fafnir! Poly and Castor surely do, and so do I. Fafnir talks about a lack of "joy". In the last movement, I suppose he looks for that quality. I did not find it missing. The first movement is altogether something else, Passion, drama, lyricism and I think Ms Arabella gets it altogether myself. I really couldn't ask for a better performance. Fafnir bemoans the deliberate tempi. I don't. It gives the artist the opportunity (which she makes much of) to offer delicate microdynamic phrases within a phrase. This Dvorak is one of the most lyrical performances of anything I ever heard!

It all points up something that I have noticed, reading Gramophone, The Absolute Sound, Fanfare, BBC Music Magazine. Critics are irrelevant. You never know when you read a review if the performance will be to your taste or not! Best is to read several and see what the consensus is. Then you may safely purchase - perhaps!

Post by fafnir November 21, 2009 (13 of 26)
skogskatt said:

It all points up something that I have noticed, reading Gramophone, The Absolute Sound, Fanfare, BBC Music Magazine. Critics are irrelevant. You never know when you read a review if the performance will be to your taste or not! Best is to read several and see what the consensus is. Then you may safely purchase - perhaps!

Truer words were never written. I would only add the SACD forum reviewers, including myself, to the list. Obviously I think this performance is second rate; there are many much finer version, but unfortunately only on RBCD.

The potential buyer should be aware only that there are sharply differing opinions on the merits of this disc, and that the tempo of the last movement is significantly below normal - so much so that the music is robbed of its vitality, at least IMHO.

Post by wehecht November 21, 2009 (14 of 26)
skogskatt said:

So! Hurwitz doesn't like it and neither does Fafnir! Poly and Castor surely do, and so do I.

It all points up something that I have noticed, reading Gramophone, The Absolute Sound, Fanfare, BBC Music Magazine. Critics are irrelevant. You never know when you read a review if the performance will be to your taste or not! Best is to read several and see what the consensus is. Then you may safely purchase - perhaps!

For me the better approach has been to read a critic over time. Eventually I get to know enough about what he hates and loves, and how it compares to my own opinion, that his views become meaningful, whether I agree with them or not. For instance, I don't care that Mr. Hurwitz has trashed the newest disc in the Brautigam/Parrott Beethoven concerto cycle. Generally he trashes everything that incorporates significant elements of HIP into the performance of music written later than early Beethoven. Since I enjoy, for instance, Charles Mackerras' Brahms recordings, I know I can safely ignore most of what Hurwitz says in his review of the Beethoven disc. Similarly I know that if Walter Simmons enthuses about a piece of 20th century American music in a Fanfare review I'm likely to enjoy it as well. Ultimately reliance on critical opinion comes down to Ronald Reagan's axiom, "trust, but verify".

Post by krisjan November 21, 2009 (15 of 26)
wehecht said:

For instance, I don't care that Mr. Hurwitz has trashed the newest disc in the Brautigam/Parrott Beethoven concerto cycle. Generally he trashes everything that incorporates significant elements of HIP into the performance of music written later than early Beethoven.

Except for the fact that he gave the two prior Bis/Brautigam piano concerto SACD's ratings of 9/9. I usually track pretty well with Hurwitz's opinions but he apparently has a bug up his xxx about the latest LvB concertos release. It won't stop me from acquiring the latest SACD as I really enjoyed the two previous ones.

Post by sunnydaler November 21, 2009 (16 of 26)
Christophe Huss from ClassicsTodayFrance rated this Steinbacher disc 4/7. :-(
http://www.classicstodayfrance.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=3356

Post by wehecht November 21, 2009 (17 of 26)
krisjan said:

Except for the fact that he gave the two prior Bis/Brautigam piano concerto SACD's ratings of 9/9. I usually track pretty well with Hurwitz's opinions but he apparently has a bug up his xxx about the latest LvB concertos release. It won't stop me from acquiring the latest SACD as I really enjoyed the two previous ones.

True, but as Hurwitz himself mentions in his review the first two discs in the series comprise relatively early Beethoven, thus still in the territory where he tolerates, if not exactly embraces HIP. Once we get to the 4th and the vc transcription we're closing in on the period in which he consistently thinks HIP is pretty much a sham. The 4th is my favorite among the Beethovens, largely because it is so gloriously lyrical, so I should be put off by his description, but I'm not, because it's Hurwitz, and it was absolutely predictable that he'd hate this release, and will equally abhor the "Emperor" when it appears.

As for Mr. Huss (see sunnydaler's post immediately above), he has long since made it onto my shortlist of critics whose low opinion indicates a virtual "must buy" in my book.

Post by amandela November 23, 2009 (18 of 26)
Anders said:

I just want to second Polly Nomial´s review on Szymanowski, Dvorak by Steinbacher. This is a very good performance by a mature artist, not a "teenage wonder" (I heard her a couple of years ago in Malmö, Sweden and she is very godd live too), of lovely music in a superb recording. The engineer Geijsen has truly excelled himself lately (the recording of Sa Chen in Mussorgsky is a most excellent piano recording and all the recordings of Helmchen in Mozart and Schubert). This bodes well for the future.

Hey, everyone:

I second the positive reviews of the Szymanowski SACD: a fine release.

On a related note, and as other posts have observed, while a few firms like Pentatone continue to offer new SACD releases, the number of new SACD releases has shrunk noticably. By the same token, prices of rare or out-of-print SACDs have skyrocketed.

This is true of both jazz, pop and classical discs. Try getting your hands on Decca's SACD release of Ashkenazy performing the Piano Works of Shostakovich for less than $60 or $70. It ain't gonna happen...

Pentatones aren't free from this maddness. I have seen a number of vendors offering for sale rare used Pents for upwards of $50/USD. The SACD reissues of the classic Police albums often command prices in the 75-100 dollar range.

Ouch....

Because I view SACD as a musical superior source platform, and because of this artifical scarcity, I have reluctantly begun to buy those jazz and classical SACDs that I want and that remain available at sane prices (under $25) agressively.

I am gambling that high end firms will continue to support SACD hardware for the foreseeable future in order to help protect the value of my investment...

Amandela

Post by Windsurfer November 23, 2009 (19 of 26)
amandela said:

Hey, everyone:

I second the positive reviews of the Szymanowski SACD: a fine release.


Amandela

Steinbacher makes some VERY lovely sounds in the Dvorak as well. Fafnir complains about the third movement being too slow. So I listened to it again to check that out. Funny that without listening with that idea in mind that it never occurred to me. But he is right about the movement being slow. Too slow? Well as I said, she creates some lovely sounds and nuances of phrasing as well. I can take it slow, I can take it fast, the music is big enough for many interpretations. There is much here to delight and fascinate. I want more!

Post by Julien November 24, 2009 (20 of 26)
Windsurfer said:

But they seem to share an approach to music making that gets into the heart of what the composer was trying to accomplish.

Come on Bruce, this means nothing. You could could say that about any artist... sounds like the fortune teller who starts with such sentences as "you have quite a personality...", waits for an impressed reaction and starts guessing from what people reply. Or the hi-fi reviewer that writes: "I could feel Diana Krall breathing in my room. She was there..."

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