It is coming up to five years since Sarah Chang, then in her early teens, made her brilliant and moving concerto recording debut in the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto on EMI (12/93). Her concerto recordings for the label since then have been of brilliant showpiece works like the Lalo Symphonie espagnole (5/96) and the Paganini First Concerto (1/95) rather than of the central repertory. It is good here to have her remarkable artistry revealed again at full stretch in astonishingly mature interpretations of the Mendelssohn and Sibelius concertos.
This 2005 recording of Han-Na Chang performing Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1 and Cello Sonata is a follow-up to her 2003 recording of Prokofiev's Cello Concerto and Cello Sonata. In both cases, Chang is accompanied by Antonio Pappano either leading the London Symphony Orchestra or playing the piano. As on the earlier disc, Chang is primarily a soloist with a strong arm and a dazzling technique, and her performances sparkle with energy and twinkle with enthusiasm.
Young cellist Han-Na Chang, Korean-born and trained in the U.S. by Mstislav Rostropovich, is a newcomer to Baroque music, having released a mixture of cello classics and late-Romantic and contemporary concertos up to this time. Here she delivers a set of seven Vivaldi cello concertos that Rostropovich himself might have helped her shape; it's something of a throwback to the way Vivaldi was played 30 or 40 years ago.
This EMI release of The Four Seasons gives violinist Sarah Chang top billing (as would be expected) and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra a smaller, less significant listing. As far as the quality of performance goes, however, Orpheus should absolutely be considered the star of this recording with Chang getting the footnote instead. This is simply not the case; from the ridiculously posed glamour photos filling the liner notes to the balance of the performance itself, this album is all about Chang. The most fulfilling aspects are the orchestral tuttis. Orpheus is truly at its best here, playing with as much energy and passion as the much ballyhooed recording with the Venice Baroque Orchestra.