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  Naxos -
  The Butterfly Lovers Concerto - Nishizaki/NZSO/Judd
  Gang Chen/Zhanhao He: The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto, Peter Breiner: Songs and Dances from the Silk Road

Takako Nishizaki
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
James Judd (conductor)
Track listing:
  Chen Gang & He Zhanhao
1. The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto

Peter Breiner: Songs and Dances from the Silk Road
2. A Beloved Rose
3. The Half-Moon Climbs
4. Spinning
5. All At Work
6. Sa Li Hong Ba
7. Lan Hua Hua
8. Lift Your Veil
9. Tulufan

Total time: 63:23
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:
  Recorded at the Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington, New Zealand, from 8th to 10th April, 2003

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Related titles: 2

Reviews: 3

Review by Dinko October 26, 2004 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Takako Nishizaki has recorded this work a number of times. Her latest effort doesn't quite match her earlier 1992 account. For one thing, her violin tone has gained a less pleasant edge than it used to have. For another, it sounds like her fingering has gotten slightly lazier.

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra displays greater virtuosity than the Shanghai Conservatory Symphony Orchestra, but that doesn't make the New Zealand performance better. The New Zealanders have a bigger, bolder sound, with lusher strings and more pleasant woodwinds. All good. But in the Butterfly Lovers concerto they lack discipline, or rehearsal time. The Shanghai orchestra may not be as good an orchestra, but they either rehearsed more or have better discipline. In any case, the Chinese provide much better back up, they are better integrated as an ensemble, and know how to treat the music. As a result, they and the soloist are like one. The New Zealanders sound uncomfortable. James Judd doesn't seem too comfortable either. He can't seem to make up his mind whether to treat this as an oriental sketch and indulge in stereotypes of what Chinese music should sound like to a non-Chinese ear, or whether he should keep it straight and let the music speak for itself.

For a classical record label which prides itself on not duplicating repertoire like "the other labels", Naxos have gone one further than the others: they've not only recorded the Butterfly Lovers at least three times, they've done so with the same soloist. Given how this performance compares to the last one, it makes you wonder why they bothered.

Sure, there is an improvement in the sound department. This performance places the orchestra in a bigger acoustic with more air around the performers. The brass section in particular is more natural than on the 1992 Shanghai recording. But who cares? The performance - of either orchestra, soloist or conductor - doesn't live up to the improved sound.

Peter Breiner's Songs and Dances from the Silk Road comes off better. Probably because this is the first time I have heard it. In any case, I found it better performed than the Concerto. The songs Breiner has selected are very nice, and very different. A nice combination of East and West where soloist and orchestra don't sound as far apart as they do in this recording of the Concerto.

The sound is decent. Nothing to write home about, but nothing to complain about either.

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Review by SnaggS October 9, 2004 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Just bought this SACD from Wesley Classics here in Perth (was only A$20). Probably only US$10 from your cheapest places.

Its a modern recording, April 2003 and says its mastered in DSD, both the multi-channel and 2-channel. Veteran Takako Nishizaki is on Violin supported by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Its a very nice recording, strings are sweet, orchestra is soft when playing soft, dynamic when playing with gusto, instruments well separated and no digititus anywhere. I have only heard this piece once before, so I can't comment with authority on the performance, but it certainly doesn't disappoint.

If you like Copland, this is right down your alley. It certainly has that "dawn of the new day in a new land" feel which I really enjoy. You can see a small town awaking in the country side as rays of sun begin to shine over the mountains in the distance.

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Review by nickc August 27, 2004 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
The Butterfly Lover's Concerto is a sort of mix of Western and Chinese elements that is fairly innocuous but seems to work quite well, but funnily enough I seemed to enjoy the Silk Road suite even more. It uses tunes from the west of China along the old Silk Road route. There are echoes of Prokofiev (lite), Copland and even Vivaldi in some of the orchestral accompaniments. Some of the tunes are quite beautiful. All fairly undemanding stuff (nothing wrong with that!).
Sound in MC is generally excellent. If I could have asked for one thing perhaps the violin is balanced a tad closely and the strings don't always sing out as they could (that may just be the music though).

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