Thursday, 5 May 2016

Music in Germany, and Katrin Scholz

One of those strange media articles (CNN, I think) recently featured “Seven Things the Germans do Best”. Cars were there, as were beer and sausages (I think). But nothing about music, even though the Germans obviously do music very well indeed, and have done for a few centuries now. Looking through a list of my favourite German-speaking violinists, I found:

Erich Röhn, Wolfgang Schneiderhan, Frank Peter Zimmerman, Christian Tetzlaff, Katrin Scholz, Adolf Busch, Fritz Kreisler, Arabella Steinbacher, Georg Kulenkampff, Laurent Albrecht Breuninger, Isabelle Faust, Julia Fischer, David Frühwirth, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Benjamin Schmid, Gerhard Taschner, Thomas Zehetmair. Quite a list. And of major orchestras in the world, the orchestras in Berlin, Vienna, Leipzig, Dresden, Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Stuttgart. Plus the plethora of opera houses in pretty well every German city, plus the music conservatoires. And when it comes to recording music, the Germans have been superb for getting on for a century now (with the Dutch and the British also often highly competitive). German music, played by Germans and recorded by Germans, is often a benchmark for first class quality.

All of which came to mind as I listened to Katrin Scholz playing Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn with the Kammerorchester Berlin (Michael Sanderling conducting in the Beethoven). Ms Scholz plays the five concertos on her two CDs – the last three by Mozart, plus a Haydn concerto, plus the Beethoven – with a touching simplicity and playing that is “classical” in the best sense of the word, avoiding the heavy point-scoring in every bar in which some performers seem to indulge. The recording quality, dating from 1997-2004, is excellent, as is the balance between violin and orchestra. I cannot think why Music did not make CNN's list of things the Germans do best. And I cannot think why Katrin Scholz, who has made some fine recordings, is not better known.

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