Tianwa Yang / Gabriel Schwabe / Antoni Wit

Brahms: Violin Concerto, Op. 77; Double Concerto, Op. 102

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Violinist Tianwa Yang is a strong candidate for the most underrated soloist on her instrument. She was a child prodigy who, for a time, specialized in the virtuoso repertory of Sarasate and Ysaÿe, but she has expressed discomfort with the concept of the virtuoso and has sought repertory that brings her a deeper sense of communication with an audience. The results here, with Yang essaying the Brahms Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77, and with Gabriel Schwabe, the Double Concerto in A minor, Op. 102, are extremely encouraging for her future. It's quite possible that this release will bring her into a new level of performance venues. The Brahms Violin Concerto is a profound mix of virtuosity and complexity with a big Hungarian finale, but an opening movement in which no note is without its function in the whole. Yang here shows a new ability to introduce subtle shadings even in very quiet passages, and the overall effect is wondrous, miraculous. Sample the first movement where she holds the various strands of the structure in perfect balance. The Double Concerto is a different kind of animal, one that annotator Keith Anderson aptly characterizes as "a work of reconciliation." In this work, the cello and the violin find their way, as it were, to dual lyrical effusions; it calls, and calls successfully, for a different kind of role from Yang, and from Schwabe, for cooperation with a very fiery soloist. Veteran conductor Antoni Wit and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin keep the complex machinery moving here, and the end result is enormously satisfying Brahms. The only complaint is inappropriate church sound from the Jesus-Christus-Kirche in Berlin, which muddies some of the wonderful clarity here.

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