Kyung-Wha Chung / Riccardo Muti

Dvorák: Violin Concerto; Romance; Bartók: Violin Rhapsodies Nos. 1 & 2

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Beyond all doubt, Kyung-Wha Chung is one of the greatest living violinists. She has an extraordinary talent, an extreme technique, an exquisite temperament, and, above all, excellent taste. And yet, for a violinist of her stature, Chung has often been saddled in recordings with lesser conductors who don't match her talent, her technique, or her temperament, much less her taste. Take this disc joining Chung's 1988 recordings of Dvorák's Violin Concerto and Romance with Riccardo Muti leading the Philadelphia and her 1992 recordings of Bartók's Two Rhapsodies for violin and orchestra with Simon Rattle leading the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. While Chung's Dvorák has the freshness and enthusiasm of the great Bohemian composer, Muti and the Philadelphia's Dvorák has the weight and gravity of Brahms, Dvorák's Viennese contemporary, and the combination is like watching an overweight old man dance with a lithe young girl. And while Chung's Bartók has the color and energy of the great Hungarian composer, Rattle and the City of Birmingham's Bartók has the angst and anxiety of Schoenberg, Bartók's Viennese contemporary, and the combination is like watching an overwrought old woman dance with a blithe young man. With more sympathetic conductors, Chung's performances might have been among the best performances of these works. With Muti and Rattle on the podium, however, Chung's performances are at best sad and at worst pathetic. EMI's later digital sound is cool, clean, and clear.

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