Violin Concerto in A minor, Op.53
Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor, Op.26
Julia Fischer (violin)
Recorded 19 & 20 April 2012 in Tonhalle, Zurich
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: March 2013
CD No: DECCA 478 3544
Duration: 56 minutes
Beginning with one of the clearest quiet timpani rolls you are ever going to hear and some poetic woodwind-playing, Julia Fischer then enters to immediately put her sweet and fervent stamp on the solo part of Max Bruch’s ubiquitous G minor Violin Concerto. Avoiding false sentiment and holding good the structure, Fischer gives a fiery and seductive account of this hugely popular and magnificent work. She is naturally (concert-hall) balanced with the orchestra, the cultured musicians of Zurich’s Tonhalle under their chief David Zinman. They offer an interactive accompaniment that is pleasing in itself and which dovetails nicely with Fischer’s playing. At the heart of the work, and this account of it, is the soulful Adagio, given an expansive, often tender reading on a par with Nathan Milstein (with Barbirolli and the New York Philharmonic) from the early 1940s. The finale takes off with passionate sweep and without the need for excessive speed.
Less well known, but no less moving and invigorating, is Dvořák’s Violin Concerto, a song and dance piece that hasn’t quite found its way right to the centre of the repertoire. God knows why! It’s a superb work full of delicious invention, many fine tunes, a soulful slow movement, and a rollicking finale, here perfectly paced to bring out its delicious lilt and all the things that make Dvořák his inimitable self. Fischer and Zinman do it proud, sizzling, loving, eloquent and exhilarating, with much authority, expressiveness and breathing space. It’s a version that should win this ‘Cinderella’ of a concerto many new friends.