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Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, January 2011

If you guessed that these performances were presented for the benefit of three young and very talented contest winners, you’d be right. Each of these prize-winning soloists at the ARD International Music Competition in Munich was given the opportunity to launch his or her career in a concert appearance with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. The CD at hand documents those concerts.

For his solo appearance Sebastian Manz chose perhaps not the most difficult clarinet concerto in the literature, but certainly the most widely known and loved, Mozart’s A-Major Concerto, K 622. Playing a basset clarinet, and properly so, Manz navigates his part with exceptional agility, gorgeous tone, exquisite phrasing, and highly cultivated musical taste, quite an accomplishment for a 22-year-old. The influence of his teacher, celebrated clarinetist Sabine Meyer, is manifest.

The double-action pedal harp was patented by Sebastien Érard in 1801. Its modern descendant has 46 or 47 strings and weighs around 80 pounds. Suddenly, one doesn’t feel so sorry for double-bass players anymore. This was the instrument that Reinhold Glière was writing for when he wrote his Harp Concerto in 1938, and in doing so he sought the help of harpist Ksenia Erdeli. In fact, so extensive was her advice that Glière proposed to credit her as co-composer, but she refused the honor, preferring to be acknowledged as the editor. The result was a piece as idiomatically written for the harp as any ever has been; though judging by the number of currently listed recordings, it doesn’t seem to be quite as popular as I believe it once was. Emmanuel Ceysson is really superb. He plays with fluent ease in the most difficult passages and spins the score’s enchanting Russian lyricism with color and character.

Seventeen-year-old Korean violinist Hyeyoon Park is obviously very talented. She would have to be to tackle Korngold’s technically taxing Violin Concerto. The difficulty she faces is that there have been at least three quite recent recordings of the piece, by Renaud Capuçon, Vadim Gluzman, and Nikolai Znaider, on top of which there are classic versions by Heifetz and Perlman, as well as fine accounts by Mutter, Hahn, and Ehnes. Park is very good, but she is not yet in the same class as those named, though she comes pretty darn close, which is an amazing achievement for one so young. She plays with solid technique, tonal vibrancy, and strong emotional commitment.

It wouldn’t be fair really to compare any of these three soloists to much older and more seasoned artists who have performed these concertos many times in concert under various conductors and with different orchestras. These are firsts for all three of them, and exceptional firsts they are. This is a beautiful recording—most enjoyable and highly recommended.

Patrick Hanudel
American Record Guide, November 2010

Since 1952 the ARD International Music Competition in Munich has served as a launching pad for young soloists. This release consists of three performances from the 2008 and 2009 farewell concerts where the winning musicians present their concerto with the Bavarian Radio Symphony.

German clarinetist and Sabine Meyer pupil Sebastian Manz leads off with the Mozart Concerto on the basset clarinet; French harpist and Paris Opera musician Emmanuel Ceysson follows with the Gliere Harp Concerto, a rarely-heard piece; and Korean violinist Hyeyoon Park concludes the program with the Korngold Violin Concerto, which is making a comeback in the violin repertoire.

This release is more of a window into new talent on the world stage than definitive renditions of important concertos. All three soloists give excellent performances, but they also have lots of room to grow. Ceysson is the most accomplished, but he is also the oldest of the group. He interacts beautifully with the orchestra—an absolute necessity given Gliere’s writing—but he also plays a little too much like an orchestral musician, content to allow his solo lines to pass by without much change in color or emotion. Park has a wonderful sense of the late romantic style and her instrument’s virtuosic capabilities; but her sound needs more sweetness and resonance to complement her phrasing, vibrato, and nuances. Manz has a brilliant command of the basset clarinet, but he plays Mozart like Weber, always pushing on the front edge of the beat and more concerned with his technical feats than expressive sincerity. Even stranger, four measures in III completely vanish. Is this a sly cut to cover something that went wrong on stage? The orchestra is thoroughly professional and artistically committed to the music, and also matches the temperament and intentions of each soloist.

Mike D. Brownell, September 2010

Listeners who picked up this CD may never realize that the soloists performing concertos of Mozart, Glière, and Korngold are actually winners of a young artist competition (the ARD International Music Competition) instead of long-established soloists. Clarinetist Sebastian Manz does well by his teacher Sabine Meyer in a truly elegant, refined interpretation of the Mozart A major Concerto. His tone is pure and clear and his interpretation is fresh, vibrant, and completely convincing. In a complete rarity, the second work on the program is Glière’s E flat major Harp Concerto performed by Emmanuel Ceysson. Though the work is scarcely known, Ceysson’s playing is somehow entirely captivating and engaging, instantly elevating the neglected work to a higher level. Perhaps the biggest surprise on the disc comes with 17-year-old Hyeyoon Park’s vivid, energetic performance of the Korngold Violin Concerto. Despite its many technical and interpretive obstacles, Park tosses off the piece with apparent ease and abundant confidence. For all three young soloists, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra is led by young, up-and-coming conductors (Cornelius Meister and Lawrence Renes) and provides a well-balanced, sensitive, and detailed accompaniment. BR Klassik’s sound is rich and warm. Listeners who are interested in top-knotch performances by artists whose careers merit watching will be pleased with this album.

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