Upon opening this disc, listeners will first notice a complete lack of program notes -- absolutely no information about the music. Behind the CD itself (and behind the plastic casing that holds it) is a paragraph about violin soloist Ruben Kosemyan. It is very obscured by the case, so be prepared to work for it if you want to read. Playing the disc quickly reveals that it doesn't have much to offer in other areas, either. Many of the track timings are incorrect. Kosemyan chooses to record only two movements of the Brahms Op. 108 Sonata and one movement of the Beethoven Op. 47 Sonata, and because there are no liner notes to offer an explanation, this decision seems quite peculiar. The Khachaturian sonata is by far the most convincing work on the album. Kosemyan's sound is very brusque and almost forced at times, but this sound quality seems to work with Khachaturian. Kosemyan unfortunately chooses to use this same sound quality for Brahms and Beethoven. The Brahms Op. 108 was recorded in the violinist's home studio, which seems woefully ill-equipped. The piano's sound suffers terribly as a result, giving the impression of an underpowered fortepiano rather than a full and robust modern instrument. The Brahms Double Concerto is simply a mess. The orchestra's performance is dreadfully sloppy; entrances are not together, the brass are continuously behind the rest of the orchestra, and the orchestral tutti sections speed up markedly as if the conductor is trying to get home a bit earlier. The solo performances are equally disappointing. Intonation is a perpetual problem; the soloists seem incapable of playing in rhythm together and there's nothing about their performances indicating there was any discussion on how to approach factors like phrasing, bow stroke, or pacing. This is absolutely an album to be avoided.
Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Sonata for violin & piano in G minor, Op. 1|
|Sonata for violin & piano No. 3 in D minor, Op. 108|
|Sonata for violin & piano No. 9 in A major ("Kreutzer"), Op. 47|
|Concerto for violin, cello & orchestra in A minor ("Double"), Op. 102|