Ysaÿe speaks and sings like no one else: there is so much imagination and love in the way he plays
Lekeu Violin Sonata in G major
Christian Ferras (violin) Pierre Barbizet (piano)
Christian Ferras is my biggest inspiration in terms of intensity. His vibrato is pure fire and his sound has no boundaries. Lekeu could have been one of the major composers of his time if he hadn’t died aged 24. There is urgency but maturity in Ferras’s playing: generosity in every note. The slow movement is perfection, raising music to a pinnacle of beauty rarely achieved by mankind.
Wagner Tristan and Isolde
Soloists, Dresden Staatskapelle/Carlos Kleiber
This is the recording I would take to a desert island. There are outbursts of raw power and it is filled with grace as well – either it brings me to tears or I feel ecstatic. On a more personal level, it brings back dear memories: I fell in love with my future boyfriend as I watched him working on this score, rehearsing it, and then conducting it.
Eugène Ysaÿe (violin)
I met Eugène Ysaÿe’s family in 2009 and received a never-edited CD with gems played by Ysaÿe himself in 1910. His grandson told me it was not for the public, because most people listening to it wouldn’t understand what was so great about Ysaÿe: there are intonation issues and poor recording conditions. But Ysaÿe speaks and sings like no one else: there is so much imagination and love in the way he plays.
Brahms Violin Concerto in D major
Ginette Neveu, Philharmonia Orchestra/Issay Dobrowen
This is an exceptional performance. It is not without its flaws, but for me Neveu comes closest to balancing the powerful nature of such a masterpiece and the lyrical and poetic sense needed at several moments. The tension she creates is impressive and the risks she takes have always been a model for me.
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor
Frank Peter Zimmermann, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra/Gerd Albrecht
I fell in love with this recording when I was seven years old. I remember listening to it over and over that year, when I was stuck in bed for four days with a high fever, and thought it was delicious to be able to listen to this heavenly music all day. I decided to become a professional violinist at that time, and Zimmermann has always remained an inspiration.