WORKS: Brahms: Violin Concerto; Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 1
PERFORMER: Sarah Chang (violin); Dresden PO/Kurt Masur
CATALOGUE NO: 967 0042
Sarah Chang has always shown excellent judgement in choosing orchestral partners for her concerto recordings. These versions of the Bruch and Brahms are no exception, the Dresden Philharmonic under Kurt Masur producing an oak-veneered sound that provides an almost ideal backcloth for Chang’s powerfully projected playing.
The recording, too, is admirable: although Chang is placed quite forward in relation to the orchestra, the engineering is sufficiently subtle to allow for a fluid balance between soloist and orchestra.
In terms of technique Chang’s playing is superb, the formidable octave passage work in the Finale of the Brahms, for example, holding few terrors for her. At the same time there are limitations to her interpretations: the main problems occur not so much in the main thematic ideas, which are often beautifully phrased, but more revealingly in passagework such as the chromatic scale and arpeggio semiquavers in the first movement of the Bruch where Chang resorts to somewhat mechanical playing.
If you relish a luxuriant German orchestral sound for the Bruch, look no further than Maxim Vengerov’s wonderfully fresh performance with the Leipzig Gewandhaus under Masur. Likewise, the lean-toned Gil Shaham with the Berlin Philharmonic on DG offers far more musical insights in the Brahms than does Chang. Erik Levi