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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Demanding and intense-- but still beautiful and elegant
This is definitely not a CD for a casual listen or for sensational reaction. The negative reactions from a couple of reviewers are understandable as it does seem like Sarah & Mazur did not try to grab the listeners' attention. Rather, they are in sort of an inner dialogue with the music themselves. But rather than Sarah taking a listless walk in the park, it feels to me...
Published on July 9, 2010 by Skylark Scribe

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Surprising Sarah: Brahms and Bruch
Sarah Chang's most recent release proves to be the most appealing and enjoyable for this listener. The Bruch and Brahms concertos appear here in an infrequent coupling with the soloist teamed with Dresden's Philharmonie and Kurt Masur.

The strongest point of this entire disc that jumps immediately on the first hear is the beautiful sound of the Dresden Phil:...
Published on March 7, 2010 by Violin MD


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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Surprising Sarah: Brahms and Bruch, March 7, 2010
This review is from: Violin Concertos (Audio CD)
Sarah Chang's most recent release proves to be the most appealing and enjoyable for this listener. The Bruch and Brahms concertos appear here in an infrequent coupling with the soloist teamed with Dresden's Philharmonie and Kurt Masur.

The strongest point of this entire disc that jumps immediately on the first hear is the beautiful sound of the Dresden Phil: the entire sound worlds of the strings, winds, brass, and percussion are quite homogeneous in their union with an impressive breadth of sound textures and characters. The fluidity of the pacing and variance in colors and forward vs. subdued 'lighting' is absolutely wonderful. It is unknown how much of this was specifically due Masur's direction or whether the orchestra already possessed and voiced its own 'sixth sense' in the realm of concerto accompaniment. Bravi to the ensemble and Masur.

Sarah Chang's playing for me has remained impressively consistent through all the years of her career for the overall feelings of 'solidness and loudness' that are always conveyed in whichever repertoire she performs. She is remarkable for her command of execution and again, consistent delivery of incredible violin-playing. Yehudi Menuhin was certainly on-the-mark in his oft-quoted praise of her as the 'most perfect violinist'. Chang's performances on disc and in the concert-hall are close in resembling each other: she exudes an almost pre-meditated command of the piece that she plays with such a solid 'weight' that remains so firmly adherent to the ground. This is not to say Chang's playing is sluggish, yet her overall aura has always conveyed the aural sensation of fortissimo projection and a purposeful bow that usually stays 'earthbound' on the violin's strings.

This present recording, however, deviates somewhat from the above traits of Chang's identity as a violinist. The Bruch concerto is expressed more romantically than the Brahms; she performs the Brahms, especially the finale, in more of her usual mode of 'solid-weighted violinism'.

In the Bruch, she is more fluid with her emotions and pacing with rubato and a beautiful legato line that ceases to betray any bow-changes. Vibrato is more varied in its speed and width here than in other recordings where she has frequently made one feel that she is applying a single wide vibrato to all passages like a prime coat of paint. Articulation and acrobatics with the bow are clear without any doubt to what she is intending to say musically. The Bruch is perhaps the most convincing because I found myself less conscious or aware of Chang's technical execution of the piece and more in rapport with the music and its drama.

Chang's first Brahms concerto recording also offers clear musicality of her reading of this most grand of violin works. I enjoyed the first and second movements the most where Chang's 'solid' and loud persona are most facilitative of delivering the first 35 minutes of Brahms' masterpiece. Her rapport with the Dresden unfolds naturally and Masur's pacing of the tutti's prevents the entire performance from emulating the soloist's 'thickness' of sound and expressive temperament. The collaboration is clearly presenting the work as a concerto-symphony as inherent in Brahms' scoring and architecture of his concerto.

However, there are contrasting elements of light vs shade, tranquility/serenity vs sturm/drang, amiable warmth vs searing rage and 'public vs distant' moods that do not quite find voice in Chang's performance. These components can sum to deliver a 'living' performance of the concerto that should communicate senses of mystery, romance, build-up/release of tension and musical melodrama that reflect Brahms' humility and vulnerability. The finale is a beautiful execution of virtuoso bow feats but remains flat and less giocoso such that the contrast and dramatic release from the first two movements cannot be fully realized nor enjoyed.

In sum, these performances are positive testaments to add to Chang's discography. I heard her perform the Brahms in Houston ten years ago - her overall interpretation has not changed much to the present recording, however her musical expressiveness has flowered more and makes this release enjoyable.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Demanding and intense-- but still beautiful and elegant, July 9, 2010
This review is from: Violin Concertos (Audio CD)
This is definitely not a CD for a casual listen or for sensational reaction. The negative reactions from a couple of reviewers are understandable as it does seem like Sarah & Mazur did not try to grab the listeners' attention. Rather, they are in sort of an inner dialogue with the music themselves. But rather than Sarah taking a listless walk in the park, it feels to me more like Sarah taking a mindful walk in the park and could not quite decide whether she should invite the listeners along.

Of the two pieces included in this CD, I think the Bruch recording is not as impressive as the Brahms concerto. The latter is very well done! I am pleasantly surprised by how well Sarah and Mazur work together here. The orchestra came alive from the first note, and carries its weight in perfect balance throughout the piece -- as it always should be with Brahms' concertos. Sarah cooperates with the orchestra in such a way that their performance complements and calls out to each other. If there is an alleged "lack of personality" in Sarah's performance, it's probably motivated by a humility in face of such a great piece of music, which I rather suspect Brahms himself would approve.

Overall, the solo violin's timbre in this recording is not a soothing one, but the depth of interpretation is unquestionable. The "harshness" does take a little getting used to, but the restrained elegance and the focused striving for perfection more than compensate for it. And for a listener who is willing to lay down the expectations of sensationalism in the romantic pieces, s/he will be rewarded with a satisfying reading of Brahms' great violin concerto in this recording.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Virtuosic Chang!, November 19, 2009
This review is from: Violin Concertos (Audio CD)
I've been a fan of Sarah Chang for a quiet a while and it was a huge delight to find out that she had recorded two of the most popular concertos of the violin repertoire, accompanied by the exceptional team of Kurt Masur and the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra. I have had the privilege to hear Sarah perform these concertos live so to have this recording part of my collection is a huge delight. Sarah's captivating live performance is brilliantly captured in this studio recording. You can hear Sarah's technical virtuosity as well as emotional range flow out of your stereo system. For a work that requires so much emotional depth, so much stamina and a lot of musical knowledge, Sarah Chang accomplishes such feats in this brilliant recording.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sarah Chang and Kurt Masur: Perfect Collaborators, March 25, 2011
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This review is from: Violin Concertos (Audio CD)
Sarah Chang remains a figure of musical security and expressive finesse, and when that is coupled with being in the same concert hall as she performs, the added strength of her natural beauty and passionate involvement with the concerto she is performing and her excursions into the orchestra itself as she strides around on the stage makes her an electrifying performer. She is currently performing the Brahms Violin concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, guest conducted by Chang's long term collaborator - Kurt Masur - and the brilliance of this recording is echoed in her live performance. Chang's intonation is flawless and the power of sound she elicits from her instrument allows her to soar above the large Brahms' orchestration.

This recording from 2009 was created with Kurt Masur conducting the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra and the unity of concept among orchestra, conductor and soloist is the most powerful aspect of this recording. Though Chang's long term association with Max Bruch's popular concerto, probably her most often performed work with orchestras, receives a rousing, near perfect performance here, it is the Brahms concerto that is particularly satisfying. The first movement cadenza is a fireworks display and the elegant restrained passion of the Adagio movement makes this one of the finer overall interpretations by a young violinist on record. Grady Harp, March 11
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars *** 1/2 Professional and pleasing readings, but nothing sticks in the mind, November 22, 2009
This review is from: Violin Concertos (Audio CD)
I had a vague but positive image of Sarah Chang in my mind, and shared everyone's awe that a Korean-American child of five could audition for Juilliard on a 1/16th violin playing the same Bruch concerto heard here. Chang is now 29, and she holds her own as a soloist. the approach can be a bit ladylike, but there's musicality and assurance that draws you in, especially during the quiet passages of the Bruch.

EMI has stood by Chang and no doubt sells many recordings - she's a phenom who has kept going, unlike many - and often the label provides top-notch accompaniment. The Dresden Phil. is by no means a top orchestra, but we have the veteran Kurt Masur on hand to lend prestige. If only he weren't such a pedestrian conductor. The Bruch sounds quite ordinary form the orchestral point of view. With Chang doing no more than a pleasant job as soloist, the result isn't very memorable. Still, one would be happy to her such a professional performance at a symphony subscription concert.

There aren't many pairing of the Bruch with the Brahms concerto. Masur begins with a straightforward, sturdy orchestral introduction; a really successful reading of this work requires due justice to its symphonic scope, and he is mostly up to it. The solo part is given with poise, and despite some slackness and loss of forward motion in the first movement, the whole reading is appealing on its own terms, with a poetic slow movement and real attack in the solo part of the finale (let down by Masur's foursquare accompaniment). The problem is that nothing sticks in the mind as phrase after phrase glides smoothly by. We are nowhere near the depth of Menuhin and Oistrakh, or the bravura and intensity of the current crop of Russian violinists. I wish Chang's account was more than pleasant, but for me it isn't.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A dream combination, April 9, 2014
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This review is from: Violin Concertos (Audio CD)
Sarah Chang, Kurt Masur, Dresden, Bruch, and Brahms. The pedigree of this combination gives rise to very lofty expectations, and the disc thoroughly delivers. A must have!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sarah and Bruch/Brahms -Bliss, November 16, 2013
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This review is from: Violin Concertos (Audio CD)
Sarah Chang is one of the best violinists in the world and only getting better. I really like her Bruch and Brahms concertos that she is very passionate with every score that she play. This recording is also extremely clear and clean reproduction. You will feel that you are there in the front row. The only other extremely gifted and talented violinist that can rival Sarah is Julia Fischer. They are like none other and they have many more years to perfect what is already the best of our era.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, January 27, 2012
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This review is from: Violin Concertos (Audio CD)
Sarah Chang is a stunning performer, both live and on this disk. This disk is beautifully performed and arranged, and is well worth adding to one's library, either in hard copy or digital.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Love the compositions, and a worthy soloist, November 19, 2010
This review is from: Violin Concertos (Audio CD)
I absolutely love Brahms and Bruch violin concertos (concerti?). I have recently listened to a few versions and I do have to say this is one of my favorites. I read a few complaints that the recording is 'too clear', and I know what they mean; but I prefer it clear (hence my preference for this version).

If you want something a little more dramatic with more of an LP sound, then go with Karajan's version with Anne Sophie Mutter: Mendelssohn, Bruch: Violin Concertos

Overall I prefer Hahn's and Bell's style of playing (for modern talent), but Sarah Chang does have a crisp precision if that is what you are into. Less feeling, more clarity I guess you could say.

One delight about this recording is the orchestration by Kurt Masur which brings these works (the Bruch especially) to life without overwhelming the soloist. Bravo!
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and Refreshing!, November 14, 2009
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Matthew Furr (Charlotte, NC USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Violin Concertos (Audio CD)
Sarah and Masur make a great team! I was very excited to receive my order after watching the preview on [...]. I wasn't let down, as this is a magnificent album. I'm particularly fond of the second movement of the Bruch and the first and third of the Brahms. Just over the last few years have I come to appreciate classical music, which means I've been able to experience Chang's catalog in a short amount of time, and if it's possible, she keeps getting better! I highly recommend you pick up this album.
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Violin Concertos
Violin Concertos by Sarah Chang (Audio CD - 2009)
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