Sarasate, Ravel, Bach, Beethoven, Dvor‡k, etc

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COMPOSERS: Bach,Beethoven,Dvorak,etc,Ravel,Sarasate
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Fire & Ice
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Sarah Chang (violin); Berlin PO/Plácido Domingo
The title, conjuring up images of Torvill and Dean, should help shift a few thousand copies. The reputation of the principal performer and wunderkind made good, Sarah Chang, will do no harm either. And there is also the Domingo effect. Those with a burning need to add these particular Favourite Violin Classics to their collections and those who just want to listen for the sake of it – and why ever not? – to the superlative technique and beautifully shaped tone of Sarah Chang need not hesitate. Sarasate’s Concert Fantasy on Carmen has all the best tunes, though it’s strange how all the best tunes never quite add up to a distillation of the opera. Never mind. Great tunes remain great tunes whatever the service to which they are called. And so on. Ravel’s Tzigane duly sparkles, fizzes and explodes, Massenet’s Meditation from Thaïs is always nice to hear in those happily frequent weaker moments of self-indulgence, Bach’s ‘Air on the G string’ survives its customary outing, and Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen, quintessential violinists’ music, is Romanticised to the skies and far above. And, in the middle a sprinkling of substance, Dvorák’s F minor and Beethoven’s F major Romances, ripe pieces both, and both ripely done. Plácido Domingo seems happy to adopt the supporting role, and I suspect the Berlin Philharmonic had a great time wallowing in it all, as indeed did I. Stephen Pettitt