Sarasate, Massanet, Ravel, Dvor‡k, Beethoven, JS Bach

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven,Dvorak,JS Bach,Massanet,Ravel,Sarasate
LABELS: EMI
ALBUM TITLE: Fire & Ice
WORKS: Various works for Violin and Orchestra
PERFORMER: Sarah Chang (violin); Berlin PO/Plácido Domingo
CATALOGUE NO: 557 2202
Recorded five years ago but only

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released now, Fire and Ice finds

Sarah Chang on scintillating form.

In the Sarasate blockbusters, Chang

never once sounds even remotely

under technical pressure: harmonics,

flying spiccato, rapid string crossing,

dizzying outbursts of high-velocity

acrobatics – all are second nature to

her. Whenever the music goes into

hyperdrive she somehow finds time to

characterise and inflect every phrase,

so that the long opening cadenza of

Ravel’s Tzigane sounds like a sequence

of imperative emotional events rather

than the usual left-hand work-out.

In Massenet’s Méditation it is

fascinating to compare Chang’s

expressive angst – ranging from the

merest half-whisper to climaxes of

searing intensity – with Michael

Rabin’s effusively warm-hearted

reading (also EMI) made 40 years

earlier. One may feel that Chang

almost tries too hard not to play

the easy interpretative card, but

I’d far rather that than endure

another outpouring of all-purpose

saccharine. Interestingly she sounds

slightly less seduced by Dvo?ák’s

Romance, which is taken at a gently

swaying tempo considerably faster

than Isaac Stern’s mid-1960s CBS

(now Sony/BMG) classic. Some may

also find Chang balanced a little too

close to the microphone for comfort.

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Julian Haylock