Daniel Hope & Sebastian Knauer at Wigmore Hall – A Celebration of Joseph Joachim

Sonata No.3 in C minor for Violin and Piano, Op.45
Hebrew Melodies, Op.9: No.1 in G minor
Sonata No.2 in A major for Violin and Piano, Op.100
Brahms, arr. Joachim
Hungarian Dance in G minor

Daniel Hope (violin) & Sebastian Knauer (piano)

Reviewed by: Ben Hogwood

Reviewed: 26 September, 2011
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

Daniel HopeAlthough billed as “A Celebration of Joseph Joachim”, Daniel Hope and Sebastian Knauer gave this BBC Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert without any wholly original music from the violinist-composer. Instead there were two sonatas published in 1886 by Brahms and Grieg with whom Joachim enjoyed a close association.

The connection with Grieg is less well known, though the two regularly played together. The Third Violin Sonata is a passionate piece, and Hope tore in to the first movement with relish and a full-toned lower register. There was an earthy feel to the folk-inflected melodies finale, where Knauer offered crisp and articulate accompaniment. The charm of the second movement was offset by the syncopations of the middle section, a scherzo within a slow movement effectively. In the slow music Hope was poised and expressive.

The short Hebrew Melody of Joachim followed; the first from a set of three that take inspiration from a collection of 23 Byron poems. The chosen extract was given a ruminative performance, its solemnity held throughout. The melody sat low in the register, betraying its arrangement from the viola original. This led straight into the Brahms, known for its sunny disposition – and sharing with the Grieg a clever formal device where scherzo and slow movement become one. Hope’s tone was sweet here, the cantabile nature of the melodies warmly exploited with energy when needed. Balance between the two players was ideal.

As a listed encore there was a reference to Joachim’s virtuosity. Hope exaggerated the sweeping melody of one of Brahms’s most popular Hungarian Dances, Knauer expertly shadowing his rubato. If some of the fluctuating tempos were too pronounced this was not the case in the Largo from Bach’s Sonata in C minor (BWV1017) – announced by Hope to be Joachim’s favourite composer – performed with next to no vibrato, syncopations attractively delivered.

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