Brahms: Violin Concerto and Double Concerto [SA-CD - CD compatible]
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Surprise!!! I was interested in a new recording of these two concerts, and I risked . The surprise was enormous. The performance of the Violin Concerto is really very good.Julia Fischer plays very well, perfect in intonation, comprehension of the phrases . She sounds like Mutter without affectations ( Mutter was better as a teenager , I think) . But the greatest surprise was the Double Concerto. I don't remember one recording of this work like this one.The Orchestra , the conductor and the soloists show one integration really amazing .This very beautiful music sound really in a magic manner .The violoncellist is really good, perhaps one of the most interesting of the new generation. Yes, this recording was a fantastic surprise. ...more info
Grand, Glorious Brahms Violin and Double Concertos Recording Courtesy of Fischer & company One of the most exciting recordings of these Brahms concertos that I've come across, this relatively new PentaTone release featuring acclaimed young German violinist Julia Fischer deserves ample recognition not only for its exceptional sound quality, but more importantly, the superlative musicianship shown by Fischer, young German cellist Daniel Muller-Schott, Russian-American conductor Yakov Kreizberg and his Netherlands Chamber Orchestra (which is listed incorrectly on the CD cover as the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra Amsterdam). Fischer's playing is consistently one with a big, bright tone, and of course she excels in the solo passages of both concertos, especially in the Joseph Joachim cadenza from the Violin Concerto first movement and the fiery gypsy-like rhythms of this concert's third movement. Hers is an interpretation that is intense and electrifying. In the Double Concerto she has an equally skillful partner in cellist Muller-Schott, whose own exquisite bowing is definitely on par with the likes of Harrell and Maisky, among others, demonstrating that he is truly an artist whose best years lie ahead. The Netherlands Chamber Orchestra is an elegant partner in both works, and a fine symphonic ensemble that deserves further attention via recordings, sounding like a Central European equivalent of the Orchestra of Saint Luke's, especially in the rich sonorities of the strings and winds. Conductor Yakov Kreizberg is, as always, excellent, serving once more as a fine partner to Fischer's (and Muller-Schott's) dazzling displays of sterling solo musicianship.
Young, thoughtful musicians at work Most of us have heard the story about Brahms attending a performance of one of his piano concertos, turning to his companion and saying, "You can play it that way, too." The story encapsulates a basic truth about great pieces of music: there are as many ways of approaching them as there are thoughtful musicians. I say "thoughtful musicians" advisedly, because there is a big difference between a good, or even great, performer and a thoughtful musician. There are many good performers; these days they are generally excellent technicians, with lovely tone. Some even strive for, and achieve, dramatic effect. The thoughtful musician goes several steps further: (s)he re-examines the piece, gets to know it intimately, and puts all of his/her technique, artistry, emotion and intellect at the service of the music. These musicians re-create the music rather than perform it, and we know the difference immediately.
Such musicians are rare, and Julia Fischer, even in her precocious early 20's, seems to be one of them. We see evidence of this in her handling of the Brahms Violin Concerto. Around the time of this recording, Ms. Fischer performed the piece twice in New York City, once with the New York Philharmonic under Lorin Maazel and again with the Dresden Philharmonic under Rafael Frubeck de Burgos. By all accounts, the two performances were quite different: relaxed, congenial and lyrical with Mr. Maazel, and fearless, agressive and assertive with Mr. de Burgos. It's difficult to see this as a lack of interpretive personality on Ms. Fischer's part, since each performance was cogent within itself . It is more likely that she continues to reassess the work and re-create it based on her insights, and those of her collaborating conductor, at the time of performance.
Ms. Fischer and Mr. Kreizberg here offer an interpretation different than either of the ones Ms. Fischer played in New York. This is an inward-looking, rapsodic performance, foregoing the more emphatic heroic fireworks . While some see the first movement of this concerto as an argument or struggle between the violin and orchestra, Fischer and Kreizberg present it as a conversation, more along the lines of Brahms' Second Piano Concerto. Tempi do fluctuate (especially in the first movement), but with a purpose. The rapsodic passages are taken more slowly than I've heard them, achingly beautiful and inhabiting a lyrical, emotive world where time is suspended. It's tough going to allow for this kind of flexibility and keep the movement from falling apart, and Kreizberg, to his credit, mostly succeeds. Fischer is lyrical, strong, firey or passionate depending on what the music demands. The second movement is one of the sweetest and most tender version I've heard, and the third, while not quite hell-bent-for-leather, is vibrant. I own three other versions of this piece -- Kogan/Bruch, Oistrach/Klemperer and Szeryng/Monteux -- and gladly add Fischer/Kreizberg to that august company.
The performance of the Double Concerto is more straightforward. The Double Concerto doesn't get the same attention that Brahms' violin or piano concerti do, and I believe this is due largely to the music's tendency toward emotional hystrionics (not something we usually associate with late Brahms). There are a few truly outstanding performances of this piece which remind us of the vigor and lyricism at its heart, and this is one of them. Fischer, Muller-Schott and Kreizberg approach the piece with youthful energy and vigor. Tempi are brisk, Brahms' more over-the-top wailings are kept restrained, and what we find is lyrical gem. This is probably one of the two or three best performances of this piece I've heard, one which blows off the cobwebs, opens the windows and lets in the fresh air.
The Netherlands Philharmonic performs like one of the best orchestras around, with gorgeous tone and excellent execution. Pentatone has done all of the musicians proud with spacious, smooth and sumptuous sound with natural instrument placement. I do not have an SACD player and so cannot comment on that layer.
There's a tendency amongst some of us -- myself included -- to praise performances from the past on major masterworks such as these. We do ourselves a disservice if we ignore what our young musicians have to say about them. Ms. Fischer doesn't sound or play like Mr. Oistrach or Mr. Kogan, or Mr. Heifetz for that matter. Nor should she. She may have something different to say about this piece in 5 years, or 10 or 20, but that doesn't make what she has to say about it now any less valid or moving. Amongst the younger violinists, the only other one I've heard who has approached this violin concerto with similar daring and personality is Anna Sophie Mutter in her startling performance with Kurt Mazur. Ms. Fischer doesn't take quite the risks that Ms. Mutter does, but she doesn't run afoul of grandstanding either. These young musicians have taken Brahms' injunction -- "You can play it that way too" -- to heart. Give a listen. I doubt you will be disappointed.
RELIVING A PERFORMANCE Julia Fischer played the Brahms' Violin concerto in D Major not too long ago in Aspen Colorado. I had the great pleasure of hearing her and was very impressed with her playing. Therefore, with this splendid recording, I am able to relive that occasion splendidly. As before, Julia plays this monumental work wonderfully with great intonation and with very beautiful tone. I'm once again very impressed. This recording even has an added bonus. Julia Fischer joined by that splendid cellist David Muller-Schott play Brahms' Double concerto in A minor for cello and violin. What a treat. Julia Fischer and David Muller-Schott play that monumental work most wonderfully too again with beautiful tone and with great intonation.
I truly loved this album. The performances are terrific as well as the sound of the recording is terrific also--all that I can say is bravo!
The brilliant Fischr is let down by lackluster conducting As often happens at Amazon, reviewers become so subjective that they don't give us a fair portrayal of the performance in question. Julia Fischer is quite distinctive here, offering a rather small-voiced, intimate view of Brahms, sensitive rather than heroic. She's at the oppoiste extreme from Oistrakh, much closer to Hilary Hahn. Her musical ideas are not intrusive; she doesn't attempt to make the Violin Concerto a signature dish concocted from special ingredients. There is instead a flow of keen musicality kept on a personal, poetic level. The only time Fischer deliberately strikes sparks is in the finale, taken fast with extra emphasis on the gypsy flavor of the rhythmic line.
Having read the Gramophone's rave for this CD, along with the reviews at Amazon, I must be in a minority over Kreizberg's contribution. He seems mundane throughout, glibly stating all the main themes before the soloist enters, never probing beneath the surface. The best you can say is that he's energettic and robust. Mediocre condcuting is damaging in a concerto conceived symphonically. Without an equal partner on the podium, even the greatest soloist offers only half a loaf.
Kreizberg fares a little better in the late, melancholy Double Concerto, but here Fischer finds a soulmate in Mueller-Schott. Together they transform the two solo parts, bringing lightness and brightness to Brahms's at times overwrought writing. This is the most mercurial, optimistic reading I've ever heard -- it deserves to stand beside the excellent one on DG from Abbado with Gil Shaham and Jian Wang. How lovely to feel a fresh breeze blowing through the piece.
In sum, I have nothing but praise for Fischer, but the lack of equally inspired conducting comes as a disappointment. ...more info
Brahms to the manner born ! (?) In summary, It's the finest performance of either concerto I ever heard. That includes Stern (live and on record), Heifetz, Oistrach, Szeryng, (both live and the RCA recording), and Milstein. As for Mutter (I have both the one with von Karajan and the one with Masur), Mullova and Hahn, for me they all pale before the magnificence of this one.
But is it Brahms to the manner born ? As if by upbringing and birth, Fischer should give us (at such an early age), so commanding a performance of this violin concerto of all things?
To say that, I believe, would denigrate the achievement of this extraordinary young musician. It must have taken a lot of study to derive an interpretation of this magnitude.
Others have said that Julia Fischer is "an astonishingly gifted young artist" - what we have here demonstrates that these gifts extend well beyond her flawless technique and perfect intonation, beyond that gloriously rich and variegated tone set within its golden aura. Fischer's greatest gift must surely be a "profound and lyrical musicianship" (phrase borrowed from the Budapest Sun review of her recent performances of the violin concerto with the NY Philharmonic on their European tour).
We acquired this disc on April 19th during intermission following her performance of this work with Maazel and the NY Philharmonic in Avery Fisher Hall immediately prior to that tour. On the drive north the next day we played the disc in the car.
After the violin's first entrance, my wife and I turned to each other in amazement! This was even better than last night! The slower tempi allow her to be even MORE expressive!
This recording clearly demonstrates that "profound and lyrical musicianship" and we find that by turns, it is fiery, steely, gutsy and heroic. Yet where implicit in the writing, we are moved by playing of heart-melting lyricism and tonal splendor with breathtaking pianissimi.
The violin's first movement entrance displays jaw dropping power. But beyond that and throughout the movement this power is contrasted with a lightness of touch that is simply amazing (How does she do that?) The phrasing is characterized by a probing intellect as well as by Fischer's innate lyricism.
The first movement cadenza is such a singular and wonderful experience, one wishes for it to never end. After the broad phrasing and tonal splendor of the second movement, one is again startled by the power and exhuberance of the solo violin in the first theme of the final movement.
What of the double concerto? Fischer continues to amaze with her powerful sound and lightness of touch. Mueller Schott demonstrates a like minded approach. This is Brahms Double concerto in a chamber like rendition where two friends match each other, tone for tone and phrase for phrase with solo passages intertwining to yield a conception different from what I have previously heard. The second movement is broadly, beautifully sung but the outer movements are like a fireworks display viewed to reveal a panorama of wonder and tonal resplendence.
As to the sound, the multi-channel layer is not gimmicky, it centers you in the hall about 7 to 10 rows out from the artists. The rear speakers, in conjunction with the front left and right, catch the sidewall and rear wall reflections to reproduce the hall acoustics in your listening room. It sounds like you are truly THERE! This in impossible with mere stereo!
One cannot listen to this disc on a fine multi-channel SACD system and not be absolutely caught up in the profound committment and sheer heart with which Fischer attacks those declamatory chords that form the violin's entry in both the first and third movements of the violin concerto.
THIS is playing of real fire. Fire complemented by all of Fischer's extraordinary abilities, the tonal splendor, the spot on - absolutely perfect intonation, the flawless technique, the sensitive phrasing, the unrivaled musical intelligence.
Her achievment here is simply unparalleled. Brahms should have heard this, he really should have....more info
Right Up There Among the Best I have to cast my vote for this CD as being extremely satisfying. But then I love both concertos so much that I simply get lost in the music and don't perhaps pay as much attention to technical details as I should; small flaws don't bother me because it's the music itself which is important, not the technical performance. I even remember a live performance of the Violin Concerto played by an international star -- no, you can't drag his name out of me! -- who had a major memory lapse in the finale; the orchestra had to stop and the soloist went over and consulted the conductor's score in order to get back on track. But then he played with the angels. Or with Brahms, which is practically the same thing.
I guess what I'm saying is that there is absolutely nothing in this recording of these two concerti that offends me and there is plenty to gladden my heart. I was won over by Fischer's way with Joachim's cadenza in the solo concerto's first movement. Fire and ice combined. (The playing of the NPO winds is inspired in the lovely Adagio movement.) The finale is perhaps a little restrained, or should I say a little suave rather than hell-bent-for-leather, but it is wonderful in its way. As to her partnering in the Double Concerto with Daniel MĘ╣ller-Schott -- a cellist I've come to admire greatly and one with whom Fischer frequently plays chamber music -- it is a melding of minds. Don't let me forget to comment that Fischer's constant accompanist on her PentaTone recordings, conductor Yakov Kreizberg, is superb as well. I'm growing very fond of his burgeoning quality recordings. (And did you know he was Semyon Bychkov's younger brother?) Finally, who knew that the Netherlands Philharmonic was capable of such subtlety? This orchestra is playing as if they were the Berlin Philharmonic!
This recording will not replace other favorites -- in the violin concerto I love Milstein, Heifetz, Shaham, Vengerov among others; in the double concerto there are the magnificent Oistrakh/Rostropovich, Szeryng/Starker and Ma/Stern and others to consider -- but it deserves a space on your shelf.
The CD is a hybrid SACD, playable on regular CD players as well as SACD equipment, and the sound is luscious.
Technically perfect but unmemorable. Having read all the favorable reviews I was looking forward to hearing this new recording of the Brahms string concertos. The playing is technically perfect, the recording very clear -- although the orchestra is a bit forward -- but it lacks inspiration or character, especially in the double concerto (certainly when compared to some of the memorable recordings like Oistrakh & Rostropovich, Perlman & Ma, Ferras & Tortelier, or even Stern & Rose). Likewise, the violin concerto also seems unmemorable. Its hard to understand the excitement over this recording or these artists. ...more info
good, not great I found this a really striking interpretation of the Violin Concerto. The range of expression, tempo, and weight applied to different passages of the score is really impressive; energy and intensity build from suspended, all-but-inert pianissimi to energetic, passionate climaxes, in long, arching lines that keep you on the edge of your seat for minutes on end. Yet, in all, the interpretation emphasizes a sort of autumnal stillness, a certain sadness with which one has come to terms and is at peace with; and I think that this emphasis of interpretation is in fact true to Brahm's spirit, and therefore apporpriate here. In the lycrical and songlike sections, especially in the first movement, Fischer and company really settle into a forlorn, achingly gorgeous approach, with slow tempi and an introspective, almost meditative atmosphere; it's heartrending playing, and really unique next to the other readings of this score I know. But at the same time I agree with the previous reviewer, that all in all this approach to the music saps it of some of its momentum and structural coherence. Things all but grind to halt in those many, pretty passages and while this does not ruin the interpretation, it is certainly a flaw.
My favorite reading of this piece is Anne Sophie-Mutter's, with Masur and the New York Philharmonic; but this reading is really not so far behind, and to be sure, Fischer's violin playing is something to admire. (Though perhaps you will agree that she isn't entirely on top of things in a few passages of the third movement.) The recorded sound and orchestral playing are really something special: assured and resonant.
Interesting, as well, is the fact that the interpretive character of the Double Concerto is essentially unrelated to that of the Violin Concerto. The Double Concerto here maintains its rhytmic momentum and is played through with gusto. I don't think it's the composition that the Violin Concerto is, but it's certainly compelling as rendered here....more info
Fallible after all It's almost a relief to find that the remarkable Julia Fischer is fallible after all. The performance of the Brahms Violin Concerto is way overdone with exaggerated dynamic contrasts, tempo changes, and lengths of pauses and phrases: strokes of the imagination that don't convince. The basic tempo of the first movement seems too slow to me. That's not to say that it is too slow, but that Fischer and conductor Kriezberg don;t make a good case for it. Cohesion, continuity and depth suffer. Brahms doesn't need and doesn't reward this kind of treatment. Moreover the recording (made in December 2006) doesn't sound well, at least on my CD only set-up, and remember I have most of Fischer's other SACD's. Turn to the Double Concerto, recorded in 2005, and it's a different story. The sound is great, Fischer is her usual stellar self, and cellist Mueller-Schott , whose playing is new to me, makes a wonderful impression: tone that is beautiful and unique, bold assurance, and technique a-plenty. It's a good sign that Fischer's New York apperance (April 2007) with the Brahms VC went over well. Perhaps the wily veteran Maazel was a positive influence or maybe she had by then worked the kinks out of her approach to the piece. In either case I hope she will hold off on recording the Brahms Violin Sonatas until her view of his music has definitely settled.
(~~)==++ Magnificent! Best Brahms Cassical Music by Julia Fischer, Daniel MĘ╣ller-Schott and Yakov Kreizberg Again the next outstanding recording of this very young and exceptional violinist Julia Fischer who shows her brilliance also in her performance of the Double Concerto for violin and cello in a perfect harmony with her musical friend and partner, the equally outstanding cellist Daniel MĘ╣ller-Schott. In this recording everything just seems to be in the right place: Julia Fischer's violin play is as clear and precise as always and it is much differentiated, well much variable and Julia manages to play a very "colourful" vibrato (yet not too colourful) and so she produces particularly beautiful, strong and expressive tones/sounds and moods, while the cello play by Daniel MĘ╣ller-Schott is on a completely equal level to this. This team play or team work of these two great virtuosos as a duo is therefore much more expressive, it is a true pleasure to listen to it, and the two instruments violin and cello provide even more gorgeous and intense colours of their particular tones and moods, which makes especially the Double Concerto such an excellent recording! The orchestra play in both concertos is equally magnificently shaped and performed as conducted by great conductor Yakov Kreizberg and it is in wonderful harmony with the two solists so that altogether this makes it a much sophisticated and mature interpretation of these two concertos; Julia Fischer, Daniel MĘ╣ller-Schott, Yakov Kreizberg and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra Amsterdam always make you, the listener, feel that there's much new in this recording compared to other recordings, something new that delivers a fresh breeze and liveliness that give these to concertos a certain "liberation", well a bit of a getting away from the existing "rules" of interpretation of these two great works and thus bring them away from "old customs". I'm sure that this will go on with Julia's next recording - all the best Julia!
In my opinion, with this again outstanding recording of the two Brahms concertos JULIA FISCHER even slightly outreaches her wonderful Mozart and Tchaikovsky recordings, she outreaches them slightly in intensity, musicality and musical moods (which is my opinion or point of view and shall not "harm" these works which were recorded as wonderfully and as much magnificently! MOZART by JULIA FISCHER is GREAT, a FRESH BREEZE, MAGNIFICENT, REMARKABLE MUSICALITY and so on... - see my JULIA FISCHER MOZART review!). When listening to the Double Concerto the different and varying moods, which come from the larger range of tones of the combination between the VIOLIN and the CELLO, might make one convinced to like this one even a little bit more than the concerto for single violin, which is, however, performed in the same high quality as the Double Concerto! I think this might be one more reason for why I like this CD so much and for my evolving such a special liking for this Double Concerto - from first listening!
My best recomendations for this - again! - AMAZING and BRILLIANT CD and congratulations to all three artists and the orchestra!
One more thing: In gereral, I think that JULIA FISCHER is truly in a way an example for other violinist - for she normally releases a new CD several times a year so that one - as a fan and admirer! - becomes really happy about receiving more and more of JULIA FISCHER's amazingly recorded and always very well chosen and wonderfully performed repertoire on CD. At this time, I hope that JULIA FISCHER will also soon be working on a new DVD PROJECT and bring out a DVD again after her first DVD of Antonio Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" of which she made such a fantastic interpretation that gives so much youthful freshness and liveliness; maybe JULIA might record and bring out a DVD of one of her concerts? As a fan I REALLY WISH this would happen!...more info