Sonia Wieder-Atherton

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A two-disc set? A two-disc set! In these days of label cutbacks and of collapsing sales, can RCA really justify a two-disc set by a new and unknown artist performing repertoire that is nearly as old as the hills? Maybe yes, maybe no: it depends on the artist and it depends on the performances. But while it is perhaps too bold to judge Sonia Wieder Atherton by her playing on these discs, it is certainly not too bold to judge her playing on these discs. And, frankly, Wieder Atherton, for all her technical power and her expressive passion, has to be judged and found wanting. Specifically, she wants an interpretive stance that is not predicated on chewing the scenery. Because, for all her power and passion, Wieder Atherton's performances are more histrionic than virtuosic, more concerned with forcing far more than the maximum expressivity out of every note, and ultimately far more hysterical than persuasive. Pianist Imogen Cooper is a supportive accompanist and violinist Raphael Oleg is a soulful partner, but the performances on these discs are clearly Wieder Atherton's conception and execution. And from conception to execution, they are too much. RCA's sound is a little too close and a little too personal.

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