Fire & Ice
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Here's a handy collection of popular works for violin and orchestra. The title apparently refers to the mix of warmly romantic music, like the Massenet Méditation, and flashy virtuoso stuff, like the Sarasate Carmen Fantasy and Zigeunerweisen. Sarah Chang excels in both areas. Her Dvorák and Beethoven Romances are sweetly sung, while the insanely virtuosic Tzigane by Ravel, with its wild staccato and chordal effects, she tosses off without breaking a sweat. Except for the romanticized Bach Air from the Suite No. 3, there are no stylistic transgressions, and the mix of fiery virtuoso fare and romantic slower beauties keeps interest alive throughout. Conductor Placido Domingo's proficient accompaniments don't get in her way. All the selections are familiar. Such violin virtuosi as Suk, Oistrakh, Grumiaux, Vengerov, and Perlman have recorded most of them, often coming closer to capturing the inner glow of the music. But Chang's exciting performances can't fail to please, especially if you want all these favorites on one disc. --Dan Davis
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Carmen is a favorite theme mine, and the renditions here are sizzling. I am less enamored of the "cold" part of this disk, though they are still beautifully played.
Incidentally, I have the same feelings about recent recordings made by Gil Shaham -- gorgeous tone, outstanding technical prowess, but slightly less artistry than on earlier recordings. Frankly I think that these two outstanding artists are being pushed by their record companies to record works which they have not yet fully assimilated artistically simply because they are among the few classical artists who are selling well. Nevertheless, both Sarah Chang and Gil Shaham are so outstanding that their recordings are worth buying.
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I enjoy all of her CDs, but I like to listen this most of the time. Just awesome!!