The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
The Romantic Violinist – A Celebration of Joseph Joachim. Works by Bruch, Joachim, Brahms, Dvořák, C. Schumann & Schubert
A tribute to the great 19th-century violinist lacks an authentic sense of style
Sunday, 01 May 2011
Daniel Hope (violin/viola) Sebastian Knauer, Bengt Forsberg (piano) Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano) Royal Stockholm Philharmonic/Sakari Oramo
Bruch, Joachim, Brahms, Dvořák, C. Schumann & Schubert
Deutsche Grammophon 477 9301
As a Joachim scholar myself, I was excited by ECHO Klassik prize-winner Daniel Hope’s avowed intention to create a homage to the great Hungarian violinist. Indeed, the repertoire is fitting in many ways, including Joachim’s Notturno, Brahms’s movement from the ‘F.A.E.’ Sonata and, of course, the first Bruch concerto (although Bruch, it seems, divided his loyalties somewhat between Joachim and Sarasate, and the relevance of Waxman’s transcription of Dvořák’s Humoresque op.101 no.7 is highly questionable).
In reality, what we have here bears no relationship whatsoever to Joachim’s own style of performance. Slow tempos (as in the Bruch Concerto), heaviness of articulation, a deluge of vibrato and, indeed, a tendency towards a rough tone (as in the ‘F.A.E.’ Scherzo or the Hungarian Dance no.5) would not have gained Joachim’s approval, although, on the plus side, Hope’s viola playing in Brahms’s Geistliches Wiegenlied op.91 no.2 (with mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter) is strong. The rather over-ambient recording creates a saccharine effect that may well fit with what many consider ‘romantic’ but is, in fact, far removed from Joachim’s aesthetic.
From the May 2011 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.