Violin Concerto No. 1

Violin Concerto op. 53
Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich
David Zinman
Int. Release 04 Mar. 2013
1 CD / Download
Julia Fischer has chosen a rare and inspired coupling, the Bruch G minor and Dvořák A minor Violin Concertos. The “brilliant and musically insightful German violinist” (The New York Times) is joined by the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and David Zinman.

Track List

Antonín Dvo?ák (1841 - 1904)
Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 53, B. 108

Max Bruch (1838 - 1920)
Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26


Julia Fischer, Tonhalle Orchester Zurich, David Zinman

Total Playing Time: 56:00

The violinist dazzles in these interpretations of two Romantic showpiece concertos. Whether she's bringing Dvorák's high notes to life with a shimmering vibrato, or caressing the tender melodies in the second movement, Fischer proves she's a worthy violinist to tackle his soaring Romantic concerto. The Tonhalle Orchestra of Zurich, too, make the most of Dvorák's masterful orchestral writing in partnership with the impressive solo tunes. Bruch's ever-popular Violin Concerto is a perfect partner to Dvorák's on this album, making the most of the full range and power of the instrument. The achingly beautiful tune in the second movement is a particular highlight, but the joy of the piece is the sheer variety available in the course of just a few minutes. It's a musical roller-coaster, showing off the many facets of the violin as both a sweet melody maker and a vehicle for virtuosity. Fans of Bruch's famous work will most certainly enjoy Fischer's dynamic recording, but even staunch violin-sceptics will find it difficult to dislike these two great Romantic concertos.

Fischer is such a fleet, silver-toned soloist, quick to gambol and quicker to charm . . . [Dvorák]: she inflects the finale with plenty of character. The opening theme is phrased with a lovely wink and a prance; you can almost see the silver glow . . . [Bruch]: From her opening solo line Fischer pulls us inside the piece, never letting us go. Through hesitations, piquant phrasings, improvisatory flourishes and limpid stretches of gorgeous hush she always keeps the music alive.

. . . a powerful performance of Dvorák's Violin Concerto, in which Julia Fischer is a soloist with a mix of strong projection and sensitivity to match . . . David Zinman takes full advantage of Dvorák's command and exploitation of orchestral texture and instrumental colour in establishing a rich framework for Fischer's soaring and beautifully inflected solo lines in the linked first and second movements, by turns brooding and animated. The spicy folk-like elements in the finale are brimful of character and exuberance here, with the orchestra and soloist taking cues from one another in maintaining the music's buoyancy, nimbleness and lyrical drama . . . [Bruch]: a performance that is as passionate as it is poignantly phrased . . . Fischer asserts all the freshness and intensity that are hallmarks of her stylish playing. There is vigour in the dramatic outbursts, glowing warmth in the reflective lyricism that comes into its own in the exquisitely restrained, melodically heartfelt slow movement. The finale's rhythmic drive and rapture cap a performance, and a disc, of striking presence and allure.

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 . . . The finale takes off with passionate sweep and without the need for excessive speed. Less well known, but no less moving and invigorating, is Dvorák's Violin Concerto, a song and dance piece that hasnżt 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 Dvorák 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.

Fischer is in effervescent form in an enticing Czech and German concerto double.

. . . the performances of both the Dvorák and the Bruch prove attractive and lovingly etched . . . [The Tonhalle woodwinds] enjoy their color contributions to the Dvorák's Finale: Allegro giocoso ma non troppo combines both ethnic furiant and dumka forms, the violin, winds, French horn and tympani urging several intricate meters and Slavonic tunes with graceful agility . . . [Bruch]: Zinman brings a decidedly energetic luster to the orchestral part, despite its truncated sonata-form Vorspiel, that evades the recapitulation so he can proceed directly to the heart of the matter, the lovely Adagio. Fischer and Zinman do inject a throaty rasping thrust into the gypsy-style rondo of the Finale: Allegro energico.

. . . a star act on a high . . . bright, attenuated sound, vibrantly expressive but never overbearing . . . Fischer and Zinman are equally effective in the Dvorák Concerto, a spirited, buoyant performance that for much of the work's duration wears an irresistible smile.

The much-recorded Bruch receives a passionate and strongly compelling performance, with Julia Fischer delivering a dazzlingly brilliant and technically flawless account of the solo part. It's easy to take such familiar music for granted, bur the refreshing thing about Fischer's interpretation is its avoidance of mannerism. The Finale is especially fluent, the Hungarian-inflected rhythms dispatched with dynamism. Likewise, there's much to admire in the Dvorák. Fischer's first entry, its high notes projected with razor-sharp concentration, has tremendous dramatic presence and the violinist sustains this level of intensity throughout the rest of the score. David Zinman and the Tonhalle Orchestra are no less fired up, providing rhythmic urgency in the outer movements and the requisite warmth in the Adagio.

. . . deeply satisfying accounts of two of the greatest romantic violin concertos . . . Fischer is a fine interpreter in a very crowded field, especially for Bruch. It is a challenge to make such a familiar concerto fresh, but Fischer manages to sound spontaneous while also utterly secure and commanding. She has a pure, seamless and rich tone. The emotional impact of the poignant opening is allowed to flow very naturally, while she is warm, tender and intimate in the famous adagio. The orchestral playing is attractive, especially in the more demanding Dvorák, and conductor David Zinman is a sympathetic and sensitive accompanist.

David Zinman as concerto partner giving ideal support but also bringing great personality to the orchestral part.

Das Orchester wirkt spätromantisch opulent, aber immer präzise. Die Geigerin hat dennoch keine Mühe, sich stets gegen die Klangmassen durchzusetzen. Beide Konzerte wirken in ihrer Wiedergabe hoch expressiv, aber stets beherrscht, ja fast antiromantisch. Das Schwelgerische und Gefühlige ist Fischers Sache nicht. So bleibt denn der Eindruck einer sich auf interpretatorisch und technisch exzellentem Niveau bewegenden Wiedergabe . . .

. . . eine reife, erwachsene Künstlerin . . . [Dvorák]: Ganz natürlich scheint ihr dieses Konzert in den Fingern zu liegen . . . Die Klippen nimmt sie mit Bravour. Ihr Ton ist durchweg sehr kernig und hat eine große Strahlkraft. Die Kombination von Julia Fischer und dem Tonhalle Orchester Zürich unter David Zinman ist ein Glücksgriff. Solistin und Orchester geben sich gegenseitig den nötigen Raum; das Orchester begleitet nicht nur, sondern wird in den ausgedehnten Tutti-Passagen zum ausdruckstarken Protagonisten. Im dritten Satz kommt der verschmitzte, spielerische und zum Teil ländliche Charakter gerade vom Orchester . . . [Bruch]: Es ist perfekt von der ersten bis zur letzten Note . . . durchdacht bis ins kleinste Detail . . . Fischer präsentiert sich auch auf dieser CD als erstklassige Geigerin . . .

Kraftvoll und beherrscht ist ihr Ansatz, diszipliniert und wohl abgewogen in der Balance die Ausbrüche, die doch stets akkur und aufgeladen daherkommen . . . [Dvoráks] Opus kommt klar strukturiert und mit den dunklen Streicherfarben des Züricher Tonhalle Orchesters unter David Zinman klanglich ausgewogen daher . . . Der große Bogen und die Schönheit des Tons, den Julia Fischer stets zu bewahren versteht, ist mit dem Erblühen seiner melancholischen Kraft im Adagio des Bruch emotionaler Empfindsamkeit und rückt das redselige Konzert weit aus der Ecke des Schmalz Verdachts. Julia Fischer hat erneut eine CD mit starken, in der Tradition verhafteten Interpretationen vorgelegt. Was will man mehr?

Julia Fischer zeichnet hier mit schlankem und hell timbriertem Ton klar abgezirkelte Linien und melodische Bögen. In keinem Takt äußert sie sich sentimental, alles bleibt emotional unter Kontrolle, gerade dem viel strapazierten und oft allzu sehr in die Wunschkonzert-Plüschecke gedrängten Konzert von Max Bruch bekommt dieser schlichtere Ansatz ausgezeichnet. Alles, was mit Technik und Virtuosität zu tun hat, ist bei ihr wie immer ein leichtes Spiel, auch im Dvorák-Konzert, dass als geigerisch "unbequem" gilt. Im Finale nimmt sie sich die "Non troppo"-Tempovorschrift zu Herzen und lässt das Werk "giocoso", vor allem auch ohne Eile ausklingen.

. . . [eine] souveräne Darstellung . . . lässt sich weder durch die rhythmische Brillanz der Finali irritieren noch in den schwärmerischen Mittelsätzen zu emotionaler Duselei verführen . . . [das melodienselige Adagio des g-Moll-Konzertes von Bruch wird] hier nicht sentimentalisch verzärtelt . . . [sondern zieht] in gelöster Schlichtheit dahin . . .

Un nouveau disque de Julia Fischer est toujours attendu avec une certaine fébrilité quant ŕ la teneur musicale des pičces enregistrées. Les Concertos pour violon et orchestre de Dvorak et Bruch . . . permettront de satisfaire cette attente et d'entendre la violoniste . . .

. . . une instrumentiste surdouée . . .

Julia Fischer confirme les qualités qui lui sont universellement reconnues . . . ŕ savoir une grande facilité, une autorité et une musicalité naturelles et constantes . . . [David Zinman] se montre également fidčle ŕ lui-męme, rigoureux, respectueux du texte, formidable artisan qui sait faire travailler et sonner son orchestre . . . On se situe donc ŕ un trčs haut niveau interprétatif, qui ravira les amateurs de beau son, de style et de travail impeccablement fait.

About the Album

Julia Fischer has chosen a rare and inspired coupling, the Bruch G minor and Dvořák A minor Violin Concertos. The “brilliant and musically insightful German violinist” (The New York Times) is joined by the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and David Zinman.

Reviewing Julia Fischer’s performance of the Dvořák Concerto in London, The Guardian wrote, “Dvořák’s Violin Concerto, a romantic showpiece too often passed over in favour of Bruch and Mendelssohn, has a piquant slow movement to compete with either. Fischer made sure we heard every note, handing us each bar with absolute technical assurance and in a lustrous, seamless tone.”

Fischer points out that the two concertos have much in common: “Formally they are very similar. Both first movements start with quasi-improvised phrases, and both go into the second movement without a break. The slow movements are structurally very similar – each is of heightened importance within the concerto.” The concertos were composed approximately a decade apart and both composers sought input from the great Hungarian violinist Joseph Joachim.

Julia Fischer wished to record the concertos with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and David Zinman, with whom she has a special relationship. “One of my first concerts was with the Tonhalle Zürich and I first played with David Zinman in 2003. He is a very natural musician and very intelligent but in the end he simply makes music. That is a gift.” Fischer was artist-in-residence with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich in 2009–2010. The distinctive sound of the orchestra, perfectly suited to the music of Bruch and Dvořák, is enhanced by the acoustic of their 1895 concert hall, where the concertos were recorded.