Sunday, 1 December 2013

Katrin Scholz

Composed in 1806, Beethoven's violin concerto can sound like either the last of the classical violin concertos, or the first of the romantic. Played by violinists such as Heifetz, Oistrakh, Stern, etc it was firmly anchored in the 19th century tradition. In much of the German tradition, however, it comes over as a late classical work, which is the case with the very fine recording by Katrin Scholz with the Kammerorchester Berlin under Michael Sanderling. Scholz plays the work on a double Berlin Classics CD album that also contains the main three Mozart violin concertos (3rd, 4th and 5th) plus a violin concerto by Haydn. Scholz's playing in all the works here is firmly in the tradition of violinists such as Busch, Schneiderhan, Röhn and Kulenkampff, eschewing any suggestion of a "grand international virtuoso" approach; nothing is over-inflated, and I enjoyed all the works immensesly.

Katrin Scholz first came to my notice several years ago when I acquired a recording of her playing pieces by Sarasate, of all people. Sarasate is not that easy to play, stylistically, but Scholz played with a delicacy and sense of style that was utterly convincing (much as, later, the Chinese violinist Tianwa Yang is so convincing in Sarasate). Ms Scholz is not a heavily promoted international star. But she is a superb violinist and a superb musician. Forget the hype and the PR make-overs. For a paltry £9.58, the two and a half hours of music and violin playing on these two CDs have given me immense satisfaction, with the three Mozart concertos being absolutely top rank; competition is fiercer in the Beethoven, but Scholz holds her own. She conducts and plays in all but the Beethoven concerto, where Michael Sanderling takes over the rostrum. And, yes, the Berlin recordings are also very fine.

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