Elgar’s Violin Concerto has a certain mystique about it independent of the knee-jerk obeisance it has received in the British press. It probably is the longest and most difficult of all Romantic violin concertos, requiring not just great technical facility but great concentration from the soloist and a real partnership of equals with the orchestra. And like all of Elgar’s large orchestral works, it is extremely episodic in construction and liable to fall apart if not handled with a compelling sense of the long line. In reviewing the score while listening to this excellent performance, I was struck by just how fussy Elgar’s indications often are: the constant accelerandos and ritards, and the minute (and impractical) dynamic indications that ask more questions than they sometimes answer. No version, least of all the composer’s own, even attempts to realize them all: it would be impossible without italicizing and sectionalizing the work to death.
Filmed at the Opéra Comique, February 2013. Music direction and artistic collaboration: Laurence Equilbey. Stage direction: Michel Fau. Intended to set the spice of Parisian operetta against American musical comedy, 'Ciboulette' was Reynaldo Hahn’s first light score. It features the tribulations of the pretty market gardener Ciboulette, determined to earn herself a bright future without sacrificing her feelings. Her pursuit of happiness leads her to come across a whole collection of typical characters from the Paris of the Belle Epoque, from the humblest to the most distinguished. 2 discs DVD including a 32-page booklet. Extra features: 31 mins - interviews with Laurence Equilbey, Michel Fau, Agnès Terrier, Jérôme Deschamps and Julie Fuchs.
Hilary Hahn and Natalie Zhu prove they are an excellent duo team in their first recording together, featuring four of Mozart's sonatas for violin and piano. All dating from 1778 and later, Mozart treats the two instruments more equitably in these sonatas than in his earlier ones. Hahn and Zhu are technically flawless together. They match each other as closely as two different instruments can to achieve a true duet sound.