Miles Hoffman

Thursday, 16 January 2014

The violist and founder of the American Chamber Players selects his favourite tracks

The tenderness and beauty of the slow movement are heart-melting. And I’m staggered by the variety of sonorities Heifetz achieves within any two bars

Jascha Heifetz, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Thomas Beecham
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor
My love for the violin, and for music, began with this piece and this 1949 recording. When I was a little boy I would go to sleep to the RCA Victor LP virtually every night, and I still can’t listen to it without fighting back tears (and losing the fight). Heifetz’s playing cold? The tenderness and beauty of the slow movement are heart-melting. And I’m staggered by the variety of sonorities Heifetz achieves within any two bars.

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Alexis Galpérine, Gérard Fallour
Pièces pour violon et piano
This is a disc of 16 showpieces for the violin. Alexis Galpérine is a virtuoso who dashes off the flashy pieces with panache and, in the gentle works, charms the listener with a tone of unique sweetness and beauty. The fact that he is my closest friend only adds to the delight I take in this 1996 recording.

Boston Symphony Orchestra and Choir/Charles Munch
Berlioz Requiem
This is music of depth, darkness, astonishing power, touching gentleness and grace, and great heights bursting with light: a virtual universe, created (not in six days but in twelve weeks, which is still amazing) by a single passionate, brilliant and subtle man. And the 1959 recording – including Léopold Simoneau’s beautiful singing of the Sanctus – is terrific.

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Soloists, Orchestre national de la RTF/Lorin Maazel
Ravel L’enfant et les sortilèges
I have an extremely warm spot in my heart for this work. It’s clever, funny, brilliant, beautiful, intensely affecting – in a word, it’s everything. I should mention, too, that the singers on this 1961 recording are as notable for their gorgeous voices and scintillating technique as for their vivid characterisations.

Staatskapelle Berlin/Daniel Barenboim
Schumann Symphony no.3 ‘Rhenish’
The reason for this choice is simple: the first notes of the ‘Rhenish’ never fail to make me feel happy to be alive. I suppose it’s the glory and nobility of the opening horn calls, played and captured in all their brilliance on this 2004 recording. It doesn’t matter where my spirits have been dwelling: the ‘Rhenish’ begins and – whoosh – up they go.

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