CLASSICAL

Mendelssohn, Felix: Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64. With Bruch, Max: Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26. Schlomo Mintz, violin. Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Claudio Abbado, conductor. DG 2531 304 -- Schlomo Mintz, the 23-year-old violin prodigy, is being heralded as the new sensation of the fiddle. In person, he is an exciting performer of apparently limitless potential. On this debut record, the assessment is not quite so favorable. His tone is generous, varied, occasionally a bit stringy. But more problematic is his musical grasp of the works. Perhaps in an effort to "make it his won," he stretches phrases and melodies beyond reasonable bounds of musical tension. At his best, he is very good indeed. This album as a chronicle of his first fledgling steps into the major leagues will be worth having, though hardly representative (one hopes) of what he should become. Abbado is the star, along with the Chicago Symphony. The reaidantly handsome details and supportive accompaniments show that even in such primarily solo-virtuoso showcases, the orchestra can be made something terribly important, rather th an a bland accompanier.

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