New Releases by Julia Fischer, London Philharmonic and Xuefei Yang

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This week's new releases include a healthy Spanish tinge, with violinist Julia Fischer playing the music of Pablo de Sarasate and guitarist Xuefei Yang offer some Albeniz, Tarrega and Rodrigo, among other composers. Plus, Vladimir Jurowski and the LPO finish their Brahms symphony cycle in dramatic fashion.

Julia Fischer, violin and Milina Chernyavska, piano
Available at

The German violinist Julia Fischer is back touring and recording after a hiatus the stretched over a year. The 30-year-old musician has just released an album of showpieces by Pablo de Sarasate (1844–1908), works whose technical demands are familiar to many violinists, but whose temperament is harder to grasp. Violinists sometimes approach these pieces with a cloying, even condescending air, as if to suggest that the music is mere encore material. Fischer’s affinity for the composer seems utterly sincere, however. She has never been a performer who likes to dabble in pop culture yet the four sets of Spanish Dances here were rooted in just that, and are quite entertaining to boot. To wrap the collection, Fisher whips up a frenzy in Zigunderweisen.


Brahms Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4
London Philharmonic
Vladimir Jurowski, conductor
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When faced with a new recording such as this, one’s mind inevitably returns to the question: does the world need another version of Brahms’s symphonies? Well, we have nothing to add to that debate at the moment other than to say that the LPO under Vladimir Jurowski offers plenty to admire in their new album, recorded live at the Southbank Center in 2010 and 2011. This set, which fills out a complete cycle, seems to have an autumnal, if somewhat old-school quality, featuring broad tempos, healthy string portamento and dusky woodwinds. A worthy addition to the recorded Brahms canon.


Sojourn: The Very Best of Xuefei Yang
Xuefei Yang, guitar
Warner Classics
Available at

Chinese guitarist Xuefei Yang was a longtime EMI artist and now appears to be making the transition to Warner Classics in the wake of last year’s takeover by the label. This collection gathers her efforts on EMI to date, mixing Baroque music, Chinese folk arrangements and some Spanish classical guitar favorites. Yang wields a seven-string guitar for two Bach pieces – the Prelude BWV 846 and the Air on a G String – capturing the particularly rich bass lines in these pieces. Her transcription of The Butterfly Lovers Concerto, originally for violin and orchestra is nicely effective and pieces by Albeniz, Tarrega and Rodrigo have plenty of sizzle. Below, watch a highlight from Yang’s Café Concert at WQXR.