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  • Violin Concerto 2 / Rhapsodies 1 & 2
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Violin Concerto 2 / Rhapsodies 1 & 2

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Audio CD, May 24, 1994
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Product Details

  • Performer: Kyung-Wha Chung
  • Orchestra: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Simon Rattle
  • Composer: Bartok
  • Audio CD (May 24, 1994)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B000006L7E
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,248 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Track Listing: 1. Violin Concerto No. 2 in B minor, 1. Allegro non troppo (16:02); 2. Violin Concerto No. 2 in B minor, 2. Andante tranquillo (09:49); 3. Violin Concerto No. 2 in B minor, 3. Allegro molto (12:16); 4. Rhapsodie No. 1, 1. Lassu (Moderato); (04:48); 5. Rhapsodie No. 1, 2. Friss (Allegro); (05:17); 6. Rhapsodie No. 2, 1. Lassu (Moderato); (04:57); 7. Rhapsodie No. 2. 2. Friss (Allegro); (05:59)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By David A. Wend on March 26, 2007
The Violin Concerto of Beal Bartok was written for violinist Zoltan Szekely, who convinced the composer to write a concerto instead of the set of variations that was Bartok's initial idea. This concerto has been renumbered as the second since the discovery of a concerto written in the early 1920's for Stefi Geyer, with whom Bartok was intimate with at the time. The concerto has lush harmonies and nothing of the composers more astringent works, such as the First Piano Concerto. The concerto was completed in 1938. After a short orchestral introduction, the soloist enters with a soaring melody that sets the tone for the movement. The second movement is more intimate and is a set of six variations with the soloist playing against smaller grouping of the orchestra. The finale returns to the full use of the orchestra and has some difficult passagework for the soloist. Kyung-Wha Chung plays this demanding work beautifully and is nicely supported by Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Orchestra.

The concerto is paired with the two Rhapsodies for Violin and Orchestra that were written in 1928 for Joseph Szigeti and Zoltan Szekely. The Rhapsodies are in two movements and have a Hungarian style similar to the Hungarian works of Franz Liszt. They are approachable virtuosic works with appealing dance melodies. This disc received excellent reviews when it was issued and the performances remain my first choice. I grew up with the records by Yehudi Menuhin and Kyung-Wha Chung plays with a similar depth of feeling for the music; a very satisfying disc.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By I. Giles TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 17, 2013
These recordings, very well made in 1990-2, offer a much more realistic sound-stage with greater tonal range throughout than her earlier recording with Solti on Decca. Another great advantage of this newer recording is the less prominent balance of the violin. These two factors make the disc a far more comfortable listening experience than before, especially bearing in mind the often spiky and aggressive textures encountered to balance the passages of an intense lyrical nature.

Kyung Wha Chung, while still providing a performance of formidable technical skill, has developed a less intense and warmer approach to the work in the intervening years. This difference may well be to do with the change of conductor. Solti's way was always high pressured but Rattle is able to bring out the less driven aspects of the score to telling effect. The recording that EMI has provided underlines this more lyrical approach. On this disc one is more aware of the folk and dance forms which underpin much of the music. The variation form of the second movement brings playing of exquisite sensitivity as well as precision in the faster double stopped sections.

The same characteristics are also abundantly obvious in the coupling, the two Rhapsodies. Once more the emphasis is more on the lyrical and folksy elements with a gentler awareness of the underlying dance structures. (Both are based on the slow/fast two part verbunkos dance form).

All of this music could be described as rather a demanding listening experience as much of it is uncompromising in its specific language which will not be natural to many listeners. The concerto though, has obvious claims to be considered as one of the great concertos of it's century and is well worth persevering with. This disc makes this a more palatable option than many.

In conclusion, I would suggest that this disc, now apparently discontinued, is well worth seeking out for its particularly persuasive characteristics.
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4 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Ghost(Ghost(M)) on December 18, 2010
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Kuyng-Wha Chung is a fantastic player, and this recording was supposed to be very good, but strangely, I didn't particularly like it. It's very disembodied, as it were, too light, too smooth. I much prefer the meatier version by Shaham/Boulez, or the Naxos recording by the less-known Gyorgy Pauk/Antoni Wit. This CD reminds me of Mullova's version: flawless but too light, indistinct, you could almost say "apprehensive", timorous. Is it a male-vs-female thing? Give it some gas, girls, push the pedal, dig in. Come to think of it, I wonder if Salerno-Sonnenberg ever played it: now here's one girl who, I think, would play it right -- whatever you can accuse her of (and there is a bit), it's not gonna be "apprehensive" anything. Also, Rattle keeps the orchestra kinda in the middle dynamically, with the same effect: too sterile. Objectively it's a good record, of course, but I can't warm up to it. The piece requires a hard-rock performance; what we get here is a smooth-jazz sorta thing. Unsatisfying.

PS. I was talking about the concerto, of course; the rhapsodies are Bartok's typical gypsy nonsense, I don't care to analyse them here; I don't listen to them: it's filler as far as I am concerned.
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