Bartok: Violin Concerto No. 2; Rhapsody No. 1; Rhapsody No. 2

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COMPOSERS: Bartok
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Violin Concerto No. 2; Rhapsody No. 1; Rhapsody No. 2
PERFORMER: Kyung-Wha Chung (violin)CBSO/Simon Rattle
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 7 54211 2 DDD
Despite its extensive use of Hungarian folk music and its extrovert orchestration, Bartók’s Second Violin Concerto is a harder piece for audiences to get to grips with than the more physically direct piano concertos. Kyung-Wha Chung is among the finest modern interpreters of the piece: her excellent Decca version with the LPO and Solti (coupled with the shorter First Concerto) dates back to 1977, while this account was recorded shortly before a memorable Prom performance with Rattle and the CBSO in 1990. Her view of the Concerto has not changed dramatically, though she is now rather more free and lyrical, rather less abrasive than in 1977. This fits well with the Rattle approach: as with his excellent recent recording of the piano concertos with Peter Donohoe, he shows himself to be a superbly sympathetic accompanist in Bartók. Where the new disc loses out is in the rather open acoustics of Cheltenham Town Hall: I would have liked greater definition from the woodwind in particular. The entertaining Rhapsodies were recorded two years later in Birmingham’s new Symphony Hall, and it shows, right down to the clatter of the cimbalom in No. 1. Stephen Maddock

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