Michael Rabin

Michael Rabin: Collection, Vol. 3

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Violinist Michael Rabin is one of many artists whose career was cut tragically short by an early death. Even before he died at the age of 35, Rabin ended his studio recording career in 1959 for unknown reasons and began to display an assortment of both physical and mental maladies, including a crippling fear of falling from the stage. In a cruel twist of irony, it was, in fact, a fall -- though not from a stage -- that was to end his life. Billed as the greatest young violinist since Heifetz, Rabin in his prime possessed a deeply sultry tone, impeccable bow technique, pristine intonation (superior even to Heifetz), and intensely passionate interpretations of both the standard repertoire as well as modern works. This third volume of the Michael Rabin Collection features two discs filled with live performances of both cornerstone repertoire (such as the Tchaikovsky and Glazunov concertos), commissioned works (notably the Creston Second Violin Concerto), and a series of short, concert show pieces. Though Rabin's technique was said to have declined by the 1960s, but evidence of this is not to be found in this collection. His Tchaikovsky concerto in particular is not only technically brilliant, but emotionally engaging from start to finish. The short works recorded for the Bell Telephone Hour and on an Australian tour (including three of the Paganini Caprices for which he is especially admired) do not have the best sound quality, they still demonstrate Rabin's incredible skill and meticulous playing. Perhaps the rarest and most gripping performance on the set is Creston's Second Violin Concerto, which Rabin had the privilege of commissioning. Here again, sound quality from both orchestra and soloist is a bit one-dimensional and lacking in depth, but Rabin's musical intentions are still quite clear.

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