Magazine article Gramophone

Canadian Violinist Records the Elgar with Her Husband

Magazine article Gramophone

Canadian Violinist Records the Elgar with Her Husband

Article excerpt

Elgar

Violin Concerto, Op 61 (a). Salut d'amour, Op 12 (b).

Offertoire, Op11 (b)

Catherine Manoukian vn

(a) Staatskapelle Weimar/ Stefan Solyom (b) pf

Berlin Classics (F) 0300429BC (58' * DDD)

Recorded live, June 2011

This was my first encounter with Toronto-born Catherine Manoukian. A private pupil of the late Dorothy DeLay, she's a commanding performer, lustrous of tone, formidably secure in technical address and evidently possesses bags of temperament. Vividly captured by the microphones at a concert back in June 2011, Manoukian's account of the Elgar is brimful of expressive fibre, acumen and intrepid character. Moreover, she distils no want of wistful tenderness or fragrant poetry when the music demands it (the central Andante is especially heartwarming in its songful glow). If I do have a niggle, it surrounds her handling of the towering cadenza, where she seldom allows herself a true pianissimo, and consequently the element of hushed intimacy in these sublime pages is only intermittently conveyed (I do find the legendary Sammons incomparable here).

Throughout, Manoukian is watchfully partnered by Stefan Solyom and his beautifully prepared Weimar band (which can boast a particularly eloquent viola section).

Occasionally I hanker after a little more thrust and impulsiveness--for example, that thrilling tutti at the heart of the first movement never quite ignites (just listen to how the composer lets the LSO off the leash in his famous 1932 recording with Menuhin). There are also a handful of gear-changes that jar on repetition (try from fig 13 or 5'27" and, later on, from 31 or 13'15" in the first movement), but on the whole I greatly enjoyed a reading of such infectious dedication, communicative clout and keen personality. …

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