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Elena Denisova & Collegium Musicum Carinthia/Kornienko
ORF CD 351 (orfshop@orf.at)

This is probably the first recording of Max Reger's massive violin concerto (1907) in the chamber version later arranged by Rudolf Kolisch for Schonberg's Vienna Society for Private Musical Performance, and premiered there in 1922. The line up is three winds, string quintet, harmonium and piano. It works well in this account by with her husband Alexei Kornienko conducting members of his chamber orchestra.

Elena Denisova has won my acclamation in Belgian and Austrian festivals, and for her impressively unique discography, worthily augmented now by this demanding and lengthy concerto, which has never held a place in the repertoire but has a great deal to recommend it.

There is ardour a-plenty and Denisova takes every opportunity to revel in the gorgeous sounds she extracts from her violin; the reduced support allows the saturated music full expression. For Denisova in her full glory, the cadenza of the first movement (at 22 mins as long as many a concerto of today) is a fine demonstration of her accomplishment and involvement with everything she plays.

Rarely heard in concert nowadays, there have however been several recordings of the Reger concerto and two can be sampled on Amazon. Music Web extols Manfred Scherzer with the Dresden S.O, but I preferred the sound of Peinemann & Stuttgarter Phil, so far as one can attempt to judge that way.

Received at the same time, I am unable to recommend a CD devoted to the Austrian composer Helmut Neumann (b 1938) of whom I had never heard and we learn little from the notes supplied. Derivative and lacking individuality or any real impulse in its conservatism, his pieces (some of them arrangements) make a good vehicle for violin playing but are not interesting enough in themselves to listen to right through.

Both these CDs also suffer in presentation from a not uncommon tendency these days to replace information (which we need) with self advertisement of the performers and redundant assurances of their excellence and former triumphs - redundant, because one only reads the booklets having bought the CDs and then it should be for listeners to decide for themselves.

Peter Grahame Woolf