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Violin Concerto the Bard the

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Product Details

  • Performer: Zimmermann; Storgards; Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Composer: Sibelius Jean
  • Audio CD (Aug. 30 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ode
  • ASIN: B003T68VYO
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #237,736 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Concerto pour violon, Le Barde, La Nymphe des Bois / Frank Peter Zimmermann - Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra - John Storgards, direction

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9d106f24) out of 5 stars 5 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d3f1060) out of 5 stars A refreshing account of the familiar Violin Concerto, with two fillers that are a delightful surprise Sept. 14 2010
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This isn't just the umpteenth recording of the Sibelius Cto., nor is it a case of another international virtuoso ticking off another box in his discography. Frank Peter Zimmermann puts an unusual stamp on the work, because he is in his way quite literal. Like Heifetz, he resists the romantic overtones of Sibelius's post-Tchaikovsky idiom. Instead of emoting, zimmermann plays the notes almost as cleanly as he might play Bach, but with real sensitivity in the phrasing -- Romanticism enters in as a warm atmosphere but not as big gestures. The playing is still big in scale, and when Sibelius wants an aching outpouring, Zimmermann delivers it, but in between he returns to quieter emotional plane. What I like is that tis plane is mysterious, foreshadowing the less romantic, more enigmatic and mystical side of the composer that would come out in the symphonies after the First.

The Helsinki Phil. must be heartedly tired of this work, but they don't show it. Conductor conductor John Storgards, who is Finnish, 46, and himself a violinist, stays in line with his soloist, providing a restrained but expressive accompaniment. Frankly, I am tired of the Sibelius Concerto, so this change of pace was very refreshing. It's often as crisp as the Heifetz but less chilly and laser-focused.

As for the fillers, they are just as long taken together as the main work. The Bard was composed in 1913, ten years after the concerto, and is eight minutes long. Evocative, hushed chords introduce a bardic harp in rippling arpeggios rather than a leading melody. I take Sibelius's incidental music with a grain of salt -- there are too many duds -- but this miniature tone poem, like its big brother En Saga, weaves an indefinable spell, all the more cryptic for seeming to be made up of fragments blown on the wind. I was very glad to make its acquaintance, especially with Ondine's lovely transparent sound.

By comparison, the Wood Nymph is a sizable tone poem (24 min.) dating from 1895, three years after the young composer became a national hero with his epic Kullervo Symphony. In his maturity Sibelius grew skeptical of is output form that era -- he suppressed Kullervo in his lifetime. The musical idiom is episodic and melodious, akin to Dvorak's late symphonic poems, and the tale upon which it is based reminds one of Mahler's enchanted forest in Das Klagende Lied and Bartok's Wooden Prince. It concerns "the adventures of the hero Björn in the forest, where evil dwarfs are carrying out their malicious schemes and a curvaceous wood nymph lures Björn into making love to her. The spell he is under cannot be broken: Björn can no longer love his wife. Nor does he feel like working. He dies alone and full of yearning." To me, the level of musical interest is about the same as in Karelia--both contain a striking march. A loose-limbed, sprawling ramble brings by events evocative of storms, magic, and Nature.

Sibelius conducted The Wood Nymph often but kept it in manuscript rather than publishing it. It wasn't until the 1990s that the music was rediscovered and found to be emotionally charged and exciting. This new reading is beautifully recorded and leads me to eat my words. Sibelius incidental music can be very rewarding at times, and although we hear little of the mature composer, this tone poem would please any concert audience.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d2cdfe4) out of 5 stars First rate...great Sibelius CD March 23 2011
By John K. Gayley - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Okay, I admit it. I have so many versions of the Concerto I have to sweep them off the floor with a broom. So I really bought this CD for the Wood Nymph. And this rendition of the Wood Nymph is fabulous...well crafted music performed with verve and energy. I think there is one other version of this piece in the catalogue by the indefatigable Osmo Vanska (no slouch at Sibelius, that one) but I think this rendition has even more energy. Its a delight. In addition, the version of "The Bard" (NOT "the Band", as Amazon has it Robbie Robertson here) is quite competitive. So if you're an ardent Sibelian trying to fill in the niches in your collection, you've come to the right place.

Oh but wait, there's more....there's that kick-butt rendition of the violin concerto. Others have already said it better, so I'll merely jump on their bandwagon....the rendition of the violin concerto is very very good, new and interesting things to say, and makes this CD a great package. The sonics also are terrific. It may not be THE version you want to live with all the time, but to my mind this is one of several versions of the concerto I'll turn addition to Lin/Salonen (a very top choice), Dylena Jenson/Ormandy (hard to find, but very good), Oistrakh and of course periodic worshhip at the altar of Heifetz.

Highly recommended
HASH(0x9d2c7144) out of 5 stars Truly engaging May 24 2014
By Steve - Published on
Format: Audio CD
It took me a long time to appreciate this great concerto, to the point that I figured it was really my problem as someone not trained in music. This never made complete sense because I love Sibelius' symphonies. After seeking out new versions beside the famous Heifetz recording - which no one seems to mention is a bit monochrome in terms of violin expression - I found the arresting recordings of Shaham and Mullova. At that point, I thought I was done. By a lucky circumstance, this recording was available in a used record store. It is by far the most interesting I have heard. New details emerge with repeated listening. The violin supports the orchestra here as much as the other way around. This recording is both captivating and strikingly beautiful. Zimmermann plays with amazing variety of expression. I love it.
HASH(0x9d2d50f0) out of 5 stars A very fine new recording April 4 2013
By John J. Puccio - Published on
Format: Audio CD
In the case of this new Sibelius Violin Concerto, violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann is up against recordings from Heifetz (RCA), Lin (Sony), Perlman (EMI), Chung (Decca), and others, even a recent one from Vilde Frang (EMI). As good as Zimmermann is and as good a recording as Ondine produce, it's not quite up their measure. Still, it's a good new effort, and the sound is first-rate, warm yet detailed.

John J. Puccio
Classical Candor
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d2d5f24) out of 5 stars Vänskä > Storgårds May 28 2014
By Sheahan Virgin - Published on
Format: Audio CD
First of all, my review only pertains to the recording of Skogsrået (The Wood Nymph), as I have not heard the other tracks on this CD. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to write: The Wood Nymph, rivaled perhaps by only the Four Legends from the Kalevala, is arguably my favorite of the Sibelius tone poems. Like other listeners, I cannot understand why this masterpiece is not performed and recorded more often. As such, any recording in my mind is something for which we should be thankful. That said, it is my opinion that the interpretation (indeed, the world premier recording) by Osmo Vänskä and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra is superior to that crafted by John Strogårds and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, who run into trouble in the third "movement," mistaking a deliberate and plodding tempo for profound. Rather, all drama drains from the piece, demonstrating quickly the extent to which the multi-layered writing of Sibelius can become cacophonous when not in the capable hands of Vänskä. Moreover, in the first "movement," the famous minimalist "sound field" is much richer and well played by the Lahti than the Helsinki Phil. Am I an expert? No. But, as I have said, the Wood Nymph is perhaps my favorite Sibelius. Whereas Vänskä makes the piece seem other worldly, Storgårds brings it down to the level of ho-hum. And that is not where Sibelius' music should ever be.

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