Strauss/Franck/Various: Vocalise: Violin Show Pieces

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Strauss/Franck/Various
LABELS: Denon
WORKS: Vocalise: Violin Show Pieces
PERFORMER: Chee-Yun (violin), Akira Eguchi (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CO-75118 DDD
With so many exuberant, even declamatory versions of the Strauss Violin Sonata around, it’s tempting to dismiss the introspective appeal of this celebratory adjunct to Strauss juvenilia. Any alternative view demands serious attention then, but I had not expected quite such unabashed, rose-tinted lyricism from Anne Akiko Meyers. There’s more to her playing than plushy vibrato and mechanistic brilliance; not that exhilaration or panache are minimised here, in this glowingly Romantic performance.

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Her Franck, too, ably justifies a more reflective, even cerebral approach, further distinguished by the tonal opulence of the playing. Not a performance to induce surges of adrenalin perhaps, but eminently well conceived and lucid. The finale includes occasional technical lapses; Meyers sounds uncomfortable with several of the big leaps in the massive reprise of material from the Recitativo-fantasia, but this remains a splendid performance overall, thanks in no small part to pianist Rohan de Silva.

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The tone of Chee-Yun (fellow Dorothy DeLay protégé and exact contemporary of Meyers), is a degree more focused; her articulation and precision (coupled with faultless intonation) is breathtaking. She is joined by Akira Eguchi in a varied programme including Penaforte’s Suite from West Side Story and Szymanowski’s La Fontaine d’Arethuse, alongside regular fare by Rachmaninov, Elgar, Massenet, Fauré and Sarasate. Certainly the finest violin recital to appear so far this year; and with playing of this calibre heard in an exceptionally clear and naturally balanced recording, Chee-Yun’s disc is an absolute winner. Michael Jameson