Sergiu Schwartz

Romantic Treasures for Violin & Piano

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The title of this Romeo Records album -- Romantic Treasures -- is somewhat of a misnomer. For starters, it includes works of Richard Strauss and Claude Debussy, two composers who sought to distance themselves from the Romantic movement and create their own path. Also, none of the pieces on the program are exactly cornerstones of the violin-piano repertoire, nor are they ideal representations of each composer's output for this instrumental combination. This peculiar programming may be forgiven if it were presented with a commanding performance. Violinist Sergiu Schwartz and pianist Alec Chien fall extremely short of this mark. The most egregious problem is Schwartz's painfully poor intonation throughout the disc. Romeo's sound is overly reverberant and balance between the violin and piano fluctuates wildly. Couple this with Schwartz's overly aggressive right arm, a lack of tone color variation, and overall musical blandness, and listeners are left with an album that should almost certainly be left on the shelf.

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