Ning Feng

Elgar & Finzi: Violin Concertos

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The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra has played Edward Elgar's Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 61, many times, but the work gets new dashes of flavor here from Chinese violinist Ning Feng and Mexican conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto. Regardless of your reaction to them, this release from Channel Classics is worth your time for the inclusion of the delightful little Violin Concerto by Gerald Finzi, which did not have its premiere until 1999. Few recordings are available. The blame for the work's suppression lies with Finzi himself, who considered it an imperfect youthful effort. Perhaps the middle movement lacks the concision of the other two (this was his objection), but it's an exceptionally attractive little neoclassical work, and Finzi was 26 when he wrote it, no teenager. Sample the vigorous hornpipe rondo finale. In the Elgar, Feng studiously avoids the work's reputation for sentimentality, and one could wish for a bit more expression to be applied, say, in the lower register at the beginning of the first movement. The slow movement is ethereal, however, with Prieto keeping the energy moving in an even flow and Feng handling the abundant technical challenges with ease. You may favor his interpretation, and with the Finzi you will be getting in almost on the ground floor.

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