SOLO – Ning Feng, violin – Channel Classics

by | Feb 3, 2011 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

SOLO – Ning Feng, violin – Channel Classics multichannel SACD 31210, 62:36 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] *****:

This is a stunning recording of solo violin works by a variety of composers. Every time I receive a disc such as this I am by nature skeptical—after all, it can be monstrously difficult to sustain a recital like this by the very nature of the art, and there are really few violinists who are able to pull it off.

Ning Feng is one of those who can, not only for his sterling playing but also because of the rabid intelligence behind the selection of pieces here. None of these works is anything less that enthralling, and a few approach the incandescent. Milstein’s arrangement of the Paganiniana has never been bettered, and this just might be the first version of  Berio’s Sequenza VIII that has actually convinced me of the validity of the composer’s musical constructs, and made me like the work—something I find very difficult to say about a number of Berio’s solo instrumental series.

The Ernst Caprice on Schubert’s Erlkonig is a wonder of dramatic musical storytelling—who needs the words after hearing this thing—while the transcription of the already-impossible guitar original of Tarrega’s Recuerdos de la Alhambra is a real marvel to hear on the violin, and still retain its ability to move one.

So this is an unqualified recommendation of a wonderful album that demonstrates the highest artistic and programming skills possible. It doesn’t hurt that the Channel surround sound is up to its usual standards, and even a solo violin sounds great this way.

TrackList:  Milstein: Paganiniana, Variations 
Tárrega/R. Ricci: Recuerdos de la Alhambra 
Berio: Sequenza VIII 
Paganini: Duet for One Violin in C major 
Schnittke: A Paganini 
Ernst: der Erlkönig (Schubert)-Grand Caprice Op. 26; The last Rose of Summer (Etude No. 6)
; Kreisler: Recitativo and Scherzo-Caprice

— Steven Ritter

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