Maxim Vengerov, violin; Lawrence Power, viola. UBS Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra. EMI 0946 3 78374 2 9.
Maybe it's just me, but I couldn't find much joy in this release. Certainly, the participants are first-rate: Maxim Vengerov has produced a number of fine violin recordings; the youthful UBS Verbier Festival Orchestra is well disciplined; and EMI is among the best record companies in the business. Why, then, did I find the performances so listless?
Perhaps Vengerov was trying to get things back to a more traditional style after all the zippy period-instruments playing of the past two decades; I don't know. What we have, though, are rather slow, sometimes ponderous interpretations with little life and little charm. Vengerov appears to be going back to a lusher, more-Romantic style than we hear nowadays. A quick comparison to my favored Anne-Sophie Mutter recordings shows Ms. Mutter more dynamic and more zestful, without being all that much quicker. Vengerov's brand of Romanticism can perhaps be taken too far.
EMI's sound is a bit thin, too, especially in the string tone, which doesn't help much. The midrange is fairly well presented, but there is not much extension in the treble or bass, nor is there much orchestral depth, transparency, ambience, or air. I suppose the most positive thing one could say of these 2006 recordings, made in Henry Wood Hall, London, is that they are calm and relaxed. They just don't strike me as being very stimulating.