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Henryk WIENIAWSKI (1835-1880)
Violin Concerto No.1 in F sharp minor, Op.14 (1852) [27:38]
Julius CONUS (1869-1942)
Violin Concerto in E minor, Op.1 (1896) [22:08]
Henri VIEUXTEMPS (1820-1881)
Fantasia appassionata in G minor, Op.35 (1859) [19:26]
Soo-Hyun Park (violin)
Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/Nicholas Milton
rec. September 2012. Philharmonie, Ludwigshafen
ONYX 4109 [69:25]

Soo-Hyun Park is a serial prize-winner and makes her debut on disc with an intriguingly balanced trio of works. First is Wieniawski’s youthful and fiery 1852 First Concerto, written when he was only seventeen. He was clearly already a talent of virtuosic precocity, and even amidst the colossi of the mid-century he must have made a significant impression. The three-movement concerto, lasting just short of half an hour, sports a richly-hued Preghiera slow movement and a very lively Rondo finale. Park plays it with considerable authority and dash, proving just a shade more daring and exciting than the performance by Charlie Siem (Warner 2564 66661 2) that I reviewed not too long ago. That said, a modern benchmark remains the excellent Gil Shaham on DG, and further back Perlman on EMI, but don’t overlook Vadim Brodsky on Arts Music or that totemic figure in this work, Michael Rabin.
 
Given the Wieniawski and Vieuxtemps’s Fantasia appassionata in G minor it seems slightly odd to encounter Conus in this company. Firstly, though, a brief word about the Vieuxtemps, which isn’t so often recorded. In fact it was pretty much ignored on disc, so far as I’m aware, until the 1980s and beyond. Ruggiero Ricci recorded it with piano accompaniment in the 1990s. Written in broadly sonata form it’s a difficult piece to programme in concert, as it lasts around twenty minutes. There are certainly some intimations of Bruch that repay study, and Park assuredly digs in with ardour and finesse. Conus’s Concerto is most associated on disc with Jascha Heifetz, and later Perlman, though it was also played (but not recorded) by Kreisler. Heifetz’s recording can be found in volume 24 of ‘The Complete Album Collection’ devoted to the violinist and no one since has begun to replicate his sense of intensity and kaleidoscopic texture. In her more small-scaled and slower way she plays it with convincing control of its Lisztian structure and outbursts of lyricism. The lovely adagio section is a particular highlight, though the recording is quite close-up and thus one catches Park’s sniffs.
 
This persuasively performed disc augurs well for Park’s future and she’s been extremely well accompanied and recorded.
 
Jonathan Woolf