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Magil
American Record Guide, February 2007

Some musicians reach out and grab you by the ears. They are very direct, bold, and dramatic; and everything is presented in stark black and white, as it were, with no halftones. Heifetz often came across as such a musician. Others work in the shadows and make their points through subtle nuances and fluctuations of tempo and tone color. At his best, Szigeti was such a musician. Try to imagine Heifetz playing Bartok's Violin Sonata 2 the way Szigeti does in his Library of Congress recital with Bela Bartok recorded in the spring of 1940. Impossible. Simone Lamsma, a young Dutch violinist belongs to the first type. (She won the 2004 Benjamin Britten International Violin Competition and second prize in Indianapolis in September 2006.) This serves her well in the sonata, which has some of the boldest gestures ever written for violin and piano in I and III. The shorter pieces are harder to pull off. I compared her performance of Pastourelle with Marat Bisengaliev's (Nov/Dec 2001). Bisengaliev's tempos are more elastic, and he adds subtle accents that help propel Elgar's phrases. The work sounds like more of a whole in his hands. Lamsma plays the piece very well, but you could say either that she misses something in the music or fails to put something into it. Elgar started his career writing many such "cream puffs" as this one, and they used to be staples of the repertoire. They were taken more seriously than they are today, and they offered a musician an opportunity to show his range in a succession of short pieces. In a way, they are harder to pull off than many of the major works. A youngster like Lamsma no doubt finds the sturm und drang of the sonata easier to convey than the shades of mood of the shorter pieces. Given time, she may discover them.



John Warrack
International Record Review, October 2006

The only substantial piece here is the Violin Sonata, written in 1918 shortly before the Cello Concerto. If it cannot approach that masterpiece, it has, at any rate in the central Romance, a strange, equivocal mood that catches in the memory. Simone Lamsma and Yurie Miura do well here, though one violinist who brought a more haunting and elliptical quality to its halting phrases was Yehudi Menuhin. The outer movements are the ones that go a long way to supporting Michael Kennedy's view, in his classic Portrait if Elgar (Oxford; 1968), of a work 'almost casual in its leisurely treatment of lyrical but not strikingly effective tunes'. It needs strong handling to make the most of them, and the vigour which Lamsma brings to the music is sympathetic but can put some strain on her intonation. She really seems at her happiest in the short pieces which date from Elgar's youthful violin-playing days. Her simplicity with them is unaffected, and is touching in the Offertoire, unashamedly marked 'Andante religioso', as well as reflecting the genuine charm of Salut d'amaur and especially the Chanson de matin. These are delightfully done. She takes the technical demands of La Capricjeuse in her stride, with a sense of relishing them, and goes with a will at the vigorous Mazurka. The recital is a welcome reminder of the excellence of light pieces for which there is no need of the apology which Elgar himself sometimes seemed to feel the need to make.



Cohn Anderson
CDs of the week, July 2006

Simone took First Prize in the first Benjamin Britten International Volin Competition (held in London in 2004). One of the prizes was to make a Naxos recording. Here it is. It’s devoted to Elgar, the ardour-filled Sonata and numerous yummy short pieces such as Song of Morni Song of Night and Sa/ut d Heartfeft, mahogany-rich playing.





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