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Robert Maxham
Fanfare, November 2008

…impassioned, quasi-improvisational declamation, Jewish or not, forms the core of Oliveira’s performance. …Oliveira possesses the violinistic authority and the temperament for idiomatic performances of this kind of music… © 2008 Fanfare Read complete review

Rob Barnett
MusicWeb International, July 2008

Right from track 1—the first movement of the Ernest Bloch Concerto—it becomes apparent that these sessions were captured in a really resonant acoustic. It’s a deeply impressive hall conveyed through a warm yet unclouded and analytical sound-image. This suits well the hoarse primitive fanfares that launch the Bloch Concerto in what is a very likeable and strong performance. The conductor tells me that rather than attempt a martial sound in the beginning fanfare he thought he would try to make it sound more like a so far: “for me it is more a call to worship or ritual than to arms”.

Two 20th century concertos, presented with great commitment, accomplishment and inspiration as well as being well documented. Can we hope for other American violin concertos, I wonder: the concertos by Edward Burlinghame Hill and Frederick Converse should also be worth discovering. I am also fairly sure that there are several works for violin and orchestra by Charles Martin Loeffler.

Bruce Surtees
The WholeNote, June 2008

I was pleased to receive a new recording by Elmar Oliveira, a splendid violinist who deserves top billing on major labels. A first prize winner of the Tchaikovsky International Competition in 1978, the Portuguese government bestowed on him the highest artistic honours. His new CD is no exception to his high level artistry.

The beautiful violin concerto by Ernest Bloch is not in the standard repertoire and has not enjoyed that many recordings, even though Schelomo, Bloch’s sensational work for cello and orchestra, is basic cello repertoire. Bloch’s compositions fall roughly into two categories, the ‘Jewish’ genre such as Bal Shem, and From Jewish Life, and neo-classical, such as the Concerti Grossi, etc. Oliveira does full justice to the 36 minute score with beautiful and appropriate stylistic qualities. Collectors will compare this performance to the out-of-print Menuhin whose soulful, reverential, almost mystical playing brings a different character to the work.

The Lees is a splendid disc-mate being a pleasant and approachable work. Lees, a very talented and highly respected contemporary composer, completed the concerto in 1959 and it was premiered by Henryk Szeryng with Erich Leinsdorf in Boston in 1963. It is a significant addition the violin concerto repertoire. I enjoyed listening to it for the first time for both its intrinsic qualities and Oliveira’s exquisite performance.

The orchestra is first rate and expertly conducted by Williams who is also a concert violinist. The recording quality is of the highest order, both detailed and dynamic.

Highly recommended.

Mike D. Brownell, June 2008

Since his unprecedented Gold Medal victory at the Tchaikovsky International Competition, violinist Elmar Oliveira has established himself not only as a powerful and reliable interpreter of the cornerstone works of the violin repertoire, but also as a champion of new works for the instrument. Composed in 1937 and 1958, respectively, neither the Bloch nor Lees violin concertos qualify as new compositions. However, neither of them have received the attention in concert halls or recording studios that they deserve and are likely unknown to a wide swath of listeners. One of Oliveira’s many talents is taking such works and delivering performances that immediately convince listeners of their inherent musical value. This is an especially daunting task in the Lees concerto, which, as the composer himself states in the liner notes, is risky given its opening with two consecutive slow movements. The intensity and focus of Oliveira’s sound is more than sufficient to grab listeners’ attention from the very first note. His ample technical abilities never overshadow his successful desire to communicate the musical and emotional qualities of the music to his listeners. On this album, Oliveira is accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, an ensemble that performs its duties sufficiently, but without the same level of intensity and commitment of Oliveira.

Richard Freed, June 2008

What a splendid idea it was to have Elmar Oliveira record these two concertos together! …Oliveira’s… playing is as winning for its depth as for its sheer brilliance; the orchestra, which has a lot to say in both works, is solidly in the picture, with a real sense of give-and-take; the spacious, unfussy sound is a definite asset and, in a curious but undeniable sense, this inspired pairing makes both concertos appear stronger, simply by showing themselves worthy of each other.

The documentation, poorly edited, tells us little, but these powerful and penetrating performances tell us all we really need to know about this terrific music.

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