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20.10.05

Dip Your Ears, No. 48

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Beethoven / Mendelssohn, Violin Concerti, N. Znaider / Z. Mehta / IsraelPh
Nikolaj Znaider's concert at the Kennedy Center coincided well with the release of his new disc. Given the disc's Beethoven and Mendelssohn and my habit of not checking concert programs beforehand, I assumed that he would be playing either one of those. Kudos to Mr. Znaider that he resisted the temptation to 'plug' his recording, playing Bruch instead. Perhaps it is a sign of his confidence in playing anything so well that it speaks for whatever else he does. You need only have been at the concert to figure that he is probably right.

Other Articles:

Jessica Duchen, The Naked Violinist (a substantial Znaider interview in The Strad, October 2005)
The disc of his arrived yesterday. I've heard positive things from fairly cynical critics - and thus forewarned, I did not dismiss the somewhat tried combination of Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Zubin Mehta, and [insert whichever young soloist-star has been around in the last 20 years] out of hand. Mehta, who has admitted that he probably recorded a couple discs too many, may not conjure sudden magic from his well-playing band, but he gives Znaider very apt and amiable support and lays the groundwork from which Znaider can display his superb soft touch in the Mendelssohn. I don't mind when a young female violinist rips through that concerto like her life depended on it... there is something to be said about that energy, after all. But Znaider sounds confident in more subtle ways; plays the violin as though he was wise far beyond his (30) years. It is something I've noticed in his concert, and I am glad to hear it again, captured on record.

The Beethoven is similarly fine - the lines from the often unmelodic material nicely accentuated. The concerto flows along level-headed, neither aggressive nor indulgent, rhythmical and with confident, light steps. It is not the 'needle through leather' approach that makes Milstein's recording great - it is mellower but never boring. Is this a disc you must have? Nah... few discs are of such caliber. But it is a disc you won't regret getting, one you will enjoy listening to many times - especially so if you actually saw him in concert.

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