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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
This CD has been out since 2004, but only recently has it started selling here at Amazon. That is because when this new line of Sony "Great Performances" first came out, they were being offered exclusively through Tower Records, but now thankfully they are available anywhere fine music is sold (I sound like a commercial). There were a dozen or so initial "GP" titles and the majority of them have been previously available on CD at full price, and with this reissue are receiving their midline debut. And for this Sibelius/Nielsen VC CD that is very important as copies of its out-of-print predescesor were being sold at outrageous prices in the Amazon Marketplace. I won't go into specifics about these performances, other than to say they are brilliant, because there are some great commentaries posted with its previous incarnation. I'm still fuming mad at Sony for recently deleting so many of their best CDs, but at least they are continuing to make some classics available once again.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
That Esa-Pekka Salonen and Cho-Liang Lin have enjoyed a strong collaborative affinity over the past years is well known and their recordings never fail to satisfy, no matter the composer's works at hand. But this now restored recording of the fiendishly difficult Sibelius and Nielsen Violin Concerti with Salonen conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra of London and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra is once again proof that few musicians understand these works as well as the partnership of Salonen and Lin.

Lin's sumptuous, golden tone is never forced out of focus even in the most rapid sequences of the Sibelius. His intonation and phrasing are right in the middle of the target and his integration with the orchestral fabric is so natural that when exposed phrases emerge it is as though the entire string section is distilled into one instrument. The second movement is one of the most beautiful ever recorded, with Lin and Salonen bringing all the understated Nordic passion into full flower.

The Nielsen is rarely performed and the reasons are unclear, especially hearing the way the concerto works so well in these collaborators' hands. The performance is bracing and makes the most of Nielsen's extended melodic lines.

If there is a 'flaw' to be found, it is in the recorded sound of the orchestras. Whether that is due to the orchestras or to the engineers is unclear, though having just heard the LA Philharmonic with Hilary Hahn as the mesmerizing soloist leaves one thinking it is the former. The Sibelius in Disney Hall becomes a musical experience that rings through the spaces of the hall and the mind long after the final chord. Now that Salonen and the LA Phil are recording for DGG let's hope that he and Lin will again record these concerti in this ambience. Until that time, this amazingly affordable CD is a must for every collector. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, January 06
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Esa-Pekka Salonen and Cho-Liang Lin seem to think alike, as one immediately notices here. In both the Sibelius and Nielsen concertos the orchestral part runs along seamlessly with the soloist. It's rare for violin virtuosos to submit themselves to an equal partner, and perhaps Lin goes a bit too far. He has a big tone (especially as miked here) and a very direct way of expressing himself. I only wish he'd cut loose in the first movement of the Sibelius, or that in the finale his playing felt a little less controlled.

But those are quibbles. There's a lot to be thrilled by in these muscular, sometimes brash performances. As remastered, Sony's recorded sound for Lin is demonstration quality, adding a great deal to one's pleasure. The Nielsen is so well played that for years this CD was the front-runner, although Vengerov has managed to beat Lin out with extra passion and finesse. Even so, Lin has musical integrity and impeccable technique. The stronger personality here, I suspect, is Salonen, who is a first-rate Sibelian and turns the orchestral parts of both concertos into symphonic works.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon January 10, 2013
I'n not familiar with the Nielsen Violin Concerto, which sounds very interesting, but I wanted to review this disc because of the quality of the Sibelius performance -- to put it bluntly, I haven't heard a better one. The conductor, Esa-Pekka Salonen, has recorded this concerto in newer digital sound with Hilary Hahn, and very impressive that sound is, but the earlier digital sound of this recording (1988) is just fine, and the balance between violin and orchestra is pretty much ideal. What's most striking is Lin's playing -- the part is notoriously difficult, but the precision and elegance of the playing are wonderful. And Lin is clearly giving his full attention not just to the technical aspects but to the expressive ones. The variety of the dynamics keep the listener constantly engaged, and in the iterative moments, Lin isn't above using a subtle rubato to keep the ear from getting in an aural rut. Compared to Hahn's, his playing has much more local life, more light and shade, more varieties in its intensities and relaxations. Hahn plays it straighter -- lovely sound, great technique, but less "expression." Christian Ferras, with von Karajan, plays with terrific intensity if less pinpoint focus than Lin, but he is recorded a bit close, and the effect is of his being too much "in your face" -- though, that said, I find it quite compelling. Accardo with Colin Davis sounds a bit too recessed, but his too is a worthy performance. Lin, Salonen, and the Sony engineers just seem to get it right. Finally -- you can pick this up for about $6.00! It's a great, great piece of music, a work of genius -- you have to have it. And the Nielsen won't disappoint you either.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon November 23, 2012
This disc, very well recorded in 1987 and 1988 in two completely different venues, is remarkably consistent as a pair of recordings. The violin is well balanced in both cases without the close miking that is so destructive of reality. This allows Lin's naturally attractive timbre to be heard far more realistically.

The disc is reputedly a remastered production but there is no mention of that in the much reduced new sleeve notes. The prospect of a new mastering was the reason for my buying this reissue. By comparing sections of both this and the previous issue, there may be a hint of a more open sound but this could also be wishful thinking. This is therefore one of those cases when there seems little justification for collectors to replace an earlier mastering with this one. Either way, the sound is superb. The same cannot be said of the sleeve notes which are not as good as in the previous version which I have now scanned and retained for this newer disc.

In each case one cannot overstate the important contribution made by the conductor, Salonen, who provides support of the greatest empathy. Once more, one notices the very good recorded balance. The opening of the Sibelius sets the scene with playing and recording of delicacy later matched with interjections of considerable orchestral power. The natural balance allows the humour of Nielsen's final movement, with its constant dialogue between the soloist and orchestral members, to be really appreciated and enjoyed.

The Sibelius has been recorded numerous times by the world's best violinists, while the Nielsen is a less frequently played and recorded concerto. Nevertheless it has claims to be considered as one of the finest 20th century violin concertos and this makes a very appropriate coupling. Like many an avid collector for several decades, I have owned just about all of the most respected recordings of both of these works at some time or another and these two recordings have always given considerable pleasure as well as musical satisfaction at every playing.

Even in the face of such competition as the revered stereo recording by Heifetz, now available as a remastered SACD option for a limited time. or the award winning version by Chung, this absolutely stands out in the crowd. The two performances on this disc are on a par with each other so what we have here is, in my opinion, versions of two of the finest modern concertos for violin which can safely be ranked with the finest ever made and currently available.

Whatever other recordings are in collector's libraries, I would suggest that this recording deserves to be included too. New purchasers may buy with complete confidence but collectors with an earlier mastering have cause to doubt the advantages of purchasing this disc.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2011
Esa-Pekka Salonen and Cho-Liang Lin- who would ever expect these two to collaborate?

I was already somewhat familiar with Lin, virtuoso violinist, but Salonen was completely new to me. Salonen interprets the piece in an unsurpassed fashion. It's as if Salonen had written these pieces himself, and knew exactly what to do and where.

While Salonen and his orchestras (Philharmonia Orchestra and Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra) are all fine and dandy, the real spotlight is here on Lin. He's the focal point of these two concertos, as these are -concertos- we are speaking of. Lin shines most brightly in the first, second, and third movements of the Sibelius concerto, as well as the first, second, and third movements of Nielsen's concerto. That's the entire disk for anyone who didn't catch on.

Jokes aside, the first movement of the Sibelius concerto can bring someone to tears if not careful. It's extremely virtuosic and breathtaking- I don't know how else to describe it. The second movement is equally if not more emotional. It's slow and powerful in the hands of these two. The third movement is closer to a march. It sounds like most challenging part of the whole CD, yet Lin handles these difficult passages with mind-boggling ease.

I must admit that I was not at all familiar with Nielsen before I had heard this CD. I am now in love with his composing style.

The first movement of Nielsen's concerto is haunting and paralyzing, and some of the most sentimental music that I've ever heard- this is coming from a Mahlerite. From the very beginning of the concerto we are introduced to a violin arpeggio that imprints itself into the mind of the listener. It is a powerful opening that lets us know what's in store. The second movement sounds almost Tchaikovsky-esque. The orchestra gets to shine a little bit more here. The third movement is a scherzo, and a fine one at that. Its theme, a strange and bizarre one, reminds me of the scherzi found in Russian music. You'll know what I mean when you listen to it.

The audio editing is just right. The violin is amplified to be the focal point, but all of the other instruments are crystal clear.

I would strongly recommend this CD to any aficionado, as well as any casual listener who enjoys classical music. You will return to this CD plenty of times.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2007
Great performance of Sibelius, beautiful Nielsen's music. Who would think that North and East could meet so successfully.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2014
This Cd has a good reputation and so I bought it with high hopes, considering I already owned near a dozen of the Sibelius. Compared with the others, like Heifetz, Oistrakh, Ida Handel, Mutter,etc, this one disappoints especially in the recording. Solo good enough but not a version I recommend as near top of the list version.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2009
The quality of the performance meets my anticipated expectation. Product delivery from Amazon was very quick and arrived in good condition.
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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2014
I've previously owned better known performers all of which were stolen so I decided to try a more obscure (to me) performer.
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