Con passione -- a Naïve album featuring Romantic, virtuosic show pieces for violin and piano is the second CD release of young Belgian violinist Yossif Ivanov. The choice of literature goes beyond the usual pieces heard on a "show-off" album like this, but still draws from composers well known for their contributions to the genre, including Chausson, Kreisler, Sarasate, and others. For the most part, this program is lots and lots of frosting with little meat and potatoes. This is a surprising choice for Ivanov considering the acclaim that his first album -- focusing on Belgian sonatas -- won for him, making it seem unnecessary to have an album specifically designed to show off his technical abilities. Unfortunately, Ivanov goes well beyond demonstrating technical bravura and playing con passione right into the realm of over-the-top Romanticism, ridiculously intense vibrato, and completely overdone rubato. With a list of skills like Ivanov's -- gorgeous tone, precision intonation, inexhaustible left-hand, and fluid right arm -- such sap is really a waste. His ability to execute this music is not in question, but the choice of literature is highly questionable for such a promising young artist who could be delving into any portion of the violin repertoire containing much more substance.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell