Rachel Barton Pine / Carlos Kalmar

Brahms, Joachim: Violin Concertos

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The premise of this recording is to couple two complementary late-nineteenth century violin concertos: the Concerto in D minor of Joseph Joachim and the Concerto in D major of Johannes Brahms. Although Brahms' Concerto in D major was unappreciated in its day, the work has become one of the most popular violin concertos of the nineteenth century, with hundreds of recordings to its credit. On the other hand, Joachim's Concerto in D minor was wildly popular in its day, but has since dropped from the repertoire, and there are only three recordings currently available of his concerto. Rachel Barton's performance of both works is expressive and virtuosic. She makes the melodies ring and the cadenzas burn, makes the lines sing, and the emotions yearn. And she makes as convincing a case for the Joachim concerto as she does for the Brahms concerto. But as fine as her performances are, it's hard to recommend this recording as a first choice for either work. In the case of the Brahms concerto, Barton is up against nearly every great violinist, and while she is a superb player in every way, she cannot match Kreisler, Heifetz, Menuhin, Grumiaux, or Oistrakh. And while her performance is far more polished and passionate than the anonymous violinist on Vox's recording of the Joachim concerto, Barton is neither as polished nor as passionate as Elmar Oliveira in his recording on IMP Masters. And while the Chicago Symphony plays well under conductor Carlos Kalmar, it cannot compete with the Chicago Symphony under Reiner in Heifetz's recording of the Brahms concerto or the Lucerne Festival Orchestra under Fürtwangler in Menuhin's recording, nor can it compete with the London Philharmonic under Botstein in Oliveira's recording. Cedille's sound is warm and open.

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