The Gemini Series features an impressive roster of singers, conductors, soloists, and ensembles of international renown, all from the incomparable EMI Classics stable. EMI's rich legacy of recording expertise comes to the fore in performances from the 1960s to the 1990s. Gemini titles are predominantly collections of single composers and fantastic value with well over an hour of music on each CD, making them the ideal place to start or develop a collection of classical music. Each 2-CD set contains over two hours of music for a fantastically low price. Attractively designed and packaged in space-saving brilliant boxes, each set includes three-language booklets with detailed notes on the music.
Although he is fondly remembered for his many exemplary film scores composed during the Second World War, Korngold's more "serious" concerto works – particularly those written after the war – are becoming increasingly well-respected and widely performed. Chief among those works gaining tremendous popularity is his violin concerto. Hints of the sweep and grandeur of the film genre can still be heard in the concerto, but never to the point where Korngold's music sounds trite or unpolished. Rather, Korngold casts the violin in a decidedly Romantic style while still managing to include snippets of previous film scores, making for an easily accessible listening experience. Contrasting sharply with Korngold's increasing popularity is Lithuanian composer Balys Dvarionas.
'Drawing on archival performance footage and interviews, The Art of Violin evokes the vast panorama of the world of the violin in the 20th century and its most outstanding performers. ….it is hard to express the explosions of joy occasioned by the discovery of long sought-out but undreamed-of archives, such as some silent - and later resynchronised - film footage, or the few brief moments of Chausson's Poème played by Ginette Neveu, the silent yet moving (in every sense of the word) images of Kreisler and Ysaÿe, the awe of a young Menuhin, the superb single camera shot of David Oistrakh performing the cadenza from Shostakovich's First Concerto.'
These two American violin concertos, written 60 years apart, were both commissioned for a young virtuoso but are basically songful and lyrical; indeed, though the Barber is now a staple of the repertoire, its beautiful first two movements were originally rejected as not effective enough, the brilliantly motoric Finale as too difficult. Meyer's was written in 1999 for Hilary Hahn, who premiered it last summer, and for whom nothing is too difficult. She seems equally at home in all the various styles Meyer combines with his usual inventiveness, making the lovely folksong-like melody, which opens the piece and reappears later, sing and soar, then turning into a bluegrass fiddler, swinging along and trading riffs with the orchestra, using drones to produce astonishing double stops, holding the listener's interest even when the music gets repetitious and static. She is a superb violinist, brilliant but not showy; her tone is strikingly beautiful, warm, pure, focused–and she can vary and intensify it with bow and vibrato. Her concentrated expressiveness never flags; she changes moods on a dime. The Barber has controlled passion and ecstasy, and a pensive, contemplative inwardness remarkable in a 19-year-old.