Elgar and Finzi Violin Concertos

Ning Feng, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

15.9933.49
Clear
Original Recording Format: DSD 64

LINER NOTES written by Clemens Romijn

The violin was Edward Elgar’s own instrument and his Violin Concerto is almost like a personal confession: it was ‘too emotional’, Elgar admitted, adding that he loved it nonetheless. The solo part is one of the most exhausting in the repertoire – a veritable compendium of bravura violin techniques. In an interview, Fritz Kreisler, to whom the Violin Concerto is dedicated, ranked Elgar with Beethoven and Brahms. Elgar met the challenge: his Violin Concerto combines the singing quality of Beethoven with the symphonic drama of Brahms.

The London-born Gerald Finzi was in many ways more English than Elgar and his teacher Ralph Vaughan Williams. As can be heard in his Violin Concerto, a well kept secret from 1927, that had its first performance after the premiere only in 1999. The work lasts twenty minutes: a six-minute allegro, a superb central ten-minute molto sereno, and ending with a four-minute hornpipe rondo. It is difficult to understand why Finzi was dissatisfied with his two fast movements. The first combines beauty with energy. Through its sheer romantic beauty, the molto sereno is one of t hose pieces where the hairs stand up on the back of the neck.

SOMETHING PERSONAL TO SAY written by Ning Feng

“England has always had a very special place in my heart. Not on ly was it the first foreign country I ever traveled to, but I also spent five unforgettable years studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where I learned so much about the English people, history, culture, and, more importantly, the beauty of English Music.

Elgar is perhaps the most iconic figure in British music history. People may say that his cello concerto is the more popular piece, but no one would doubt that his violin concerto is, certainly, the most monumental piece in the British violin repertory. I still remember the first time I heard the piece and how much it reminded me of the landscape, the colour, the image of England. It is always very emotional for me to perform this piece, the longest violin concerto ever written, as all the precious memories of my time in England come flooding back. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to a very special friend of mine, Mr Chong Long, who introduced me to the wonderful Finzi violin concerto. Compared with the Elgar violin concerto, Finzi’s is a much shorter piece written in concerto grosso style. It has lovely energetic first and last movements, with a beautiful, touching slow second movement in between. It is a wonderful and very interesting listening experience to have these two English violin concertos placed together. I would also like to share my appreciation for Mr. Long’s generous support, which made this recording possible.”

PRODUCER’S NOTE written by Jared Sacks

“My first impression on coming to Liverpool was the deep respect the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra has for Ning Feng. Feng had already been there a number of times so the feeling was mutual. Everyone was very relaxed yet anxious to work with Maestro Pietro and Feng. (quite different from some of the other orchestras I have worked with). You really hear their commitment in the playing. Each member of the orchestra is giving Feng the freedom to express as the soloist, yet they are right there when they have their own moment to shine.”

Tracklist

1.
Concerto in B minor for Violin and Orchestra - Allegro
18:40
2.
Concerto in B minor for Violin and Orchestra - Andante
12:33
3.
Concerto in B minor for Violin and Orchestra - Allegro
20:23
4.
Violin Concerto - Allegro
05:45
5.
Violin Concerto - Molto sereno
09:46
6.
Violin Concerto - Hornpipe Rondo - Allegro risoluto
03:57

Total time: 01:11:04

Additional information

Label

SKU

40218

Qualities

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Channels

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Artists

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Composers

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Genres

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Amplifiers

van Medevoort, Holland

Assistant Recording Engineers

Ausma Lace, Chris Tann

Cables

Van den Hul

Digital Converters

Grimm A/D DSD 64fs

Editing Software

Pyramix Merging Technologies

Mastering Engineer

Jared Sacks

Mastering Room

Grimm LS1 speakers, Van den Hul cables

Microphones

Bruel & Kjaer 4006, Schoeps

Mixing Board

Rens Heijnis, custom design

Notes

The recording was originally digitized using the Grimm AD1, which operates at DSD64. The original session tracks were edited and rebalanced (which meant going through the mixer)  in the only available format for that purpose; the Pyramix 352.8KHz/24bit PCM (DXD). Prior to the advent of direct digital delivery, the next step in the production process from 352.8KHz/24bit PCM would be the DSD64 edited master for SACD production. What we have done now is also make a direct conversion to DSD128 and DSD256 from that original DXD edited master, without going through any interim processing steps.

Those DXD to DSD conversions are not up-samplings, as they would be going from one PCM sampling rate to another, for they are different encoding systems. PCM is a digital value sample based system, and DSD is a digital bit density modulated system. Conversion from any PCM sample rate to any DSD bit rate system is a remodulation, not an up-sampling.

We feel there is an audio advantage to this process in using the original files so we give you the choice and you can decide.

 

Jared Sacks

Conductors

Original Recording Format

Producer

Jared Sacks

Recording Engineer

Jared Sacks

Recording location

Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, February 2017

Recording Type & Bit Rate

DSD64

Speakers

Audio Lab, Holland

Release Date October 31, 2018

Press reviews

Stretto

Don’t miss this!

Opus Klassiek

(…) Ning Feng heeft in China een forse reputatie die door zijn optredens een toegevoegde waarde oplevert. Als daarmee de vioolconcerten van Elgar en Finzi onder de aandacht van een nieuw publiek komen is er een belangrijk doel bereikt. Bovendien is hij een prachtsolist, die uitstekend wordt gesecundeerd door Carlos Miguel Prieto (ook in Nederland geen onbekende) en het orkest van Liverpool. Een mooie toelichting van Clemens Romijn en een fraaie opname (geen super-audio) door Jared Sacks zorgen voor een eindproduct om trots op te zijn.

Luister 9

(…) elegant, doordacht, subtiel en vooral onnadrukkelijk beweegt hij zich als een gentleman door de muziek en laat die zo grotendeels voor zichzelf spreken. (Solist en dirigent lijken elkaar naadloos te vinden in deze muzikale benadering (…)

Gramophone

(…) Then, in the cadenza, Feng’s interpretation suddenly snaps into focus. He plays it ardently, evoking a rapt atmosphere that stands out from this otherwise overly sedate interpretation. (…) I very much like the delicate, tightly focused sound Feng brings to Finzi’s early Violin Concerto (…)

Crescendo Magazine (BE)

…) Le violoniste chinois Ning Feng en donne ici une exécution des plus inspirées, fidèle à l’esthétique d’Edward Elgar (…)(

BBC Music Magazine 4 out of 5

(…) a technically immaculate player (…) violinist Ning Feng is ideal in Elgar Violin Concerto is pin-point accurate and tingles with focused intensity (…) his deeply considered account of Elgar’s Concerto is the real reason for buying this disc. Not a bar of it is uninvolving, and the recorded sound is excellent.

Audiophile Mag Italy 3 out of 5

Performance: (…) a refreshingly old-world approach to matters of tempo and rubato (…) he varies the pace and note values, uses variable vibrato and an extensive range of tonal and dynamic shading to create a highly charged account of the score replete with the necessary noblimente and innigkeit.
Sound: (…) the internal balance is excellent and Ning Feng isn’t too prominent. What is particularly impressive is the weight of sound, so the tuttis have real impact, as is the sense of projection and presence, all of which is achieved without any loss of clarity or detail, so you hear the different sections of the orchestra in climaxes and woodwind solos aren’t overly highlighted.

MusicWeb International

Ning Feng is the subtle protagonist, a metrically flexible player whose dynamics are astutely judged and whose technique is up to the demands of the Elgar. His tone production is intriguing, his colouring and coiling of the line – his use of the right hand in particular in these respects – ear-catching in the extreme. His is a supple stylist too, capable of graphic delicacy and refinement, and very sweet toned indeed throughout the compass. He doesn’t avoid expressive shifts either, which is stylistically apt, nor does he make an especially big sound. He doesn’t cut through the orchestra like a rapier, preferring a certain plasticity in his lyricism.

Gramophone Podcast

(…) the same orchestra (Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra) gives glorious support to Ning Feng in Gerald Finzi’s Violin Concerto in an impressive new recording that has the Elgar concerto as coupling. (…)

De Gelderlander- 4 Stars

(…) Elgar’s Violin Concerto bursts of passion, especially by the emotional approach of Ning Feng. In an engaging way, he combines lyricism (Andante!) with bravura and it is excellently supported by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of the Mexican conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto. (…)

(…) De passie straalt er van af. Vooral in de emotionele aanpak van Ning Feng. Die combineert op een innemende wijze lyriek (Andante!) met bravoure en wordt daarbij voortreffelijk ondersteund door het Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra onder leiding van de Mexicaanse dirigent Carlos Miguel Prieto. (…)

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