Thursday, 6 July 2017

Julia Fischer

I listened recently to Julia Fischer playing the Beethoven violin concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Riccardo Muti and was not too impressed. The first movement in particular sounded somewhat brusque, though whether this was down to the violinist, Muti or Chicago it is hard to say. However, in my eyes Ms Fischer fully redeemed herself this week when I listened to her off-air in the violin concertos of Béla Bartok and of Benjamin Britten.

The Bartok came from Zürich, with the Tonhalle Orchestra conducted by Charles Dutoit. The Bartok is on the fringe of my violin concerto listening, along with Shostakovich's second concerto and the concerto of William Walton. However, Ms Fischer seemed to be doing all the right things and making the right sounds, and the result was convincing.

The solitary violin concerto by Benjamin Britten dates from 1938-9 and is a comparatively early work of the composer. It is also one of the very few Britten works that I enjoy unreservedly. It has seen a marked renaissance in popularity recently, being performed and recorded by violinists of the stature of James Ehnes, Vilde Frang, Janine Jansen, and Frank Peter Zimmermann. To my ears, Julia Fischer has the measure of the work, and I greatly enjoyed her performance. Juanjo Mena conducted the BBC Philharmonic, making an effective contribution. I am happy to have Ms Fischer back on my listening list; she has always been a fine, no-nonsense violinist.

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