Notes and Editorial Reviews
Around five years ago a young Hilary Hahn made her debut with her new label, Deutsche Grammophon, with exactly these same concertos, and it was no accident that the well-prepared, extraordinarily talented violinist enjoyed a successful result. The same holds true here: this time the label is Decca, and the remarkable violinist is 25-year-old Julia Fischer, who already has several acclaimed recordings to her credit, including the solo sonatas and partitas of Bach, Russian violin concertos, and concertos by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Brahms. If you haven't heard these timeless works in a while, and especially if your taste has leaned mostly to period-instrument renditions, you owe it to yourself to
re-enter the Bach violin canon with these splendid, scintillating, stylish performances that totally respect Bach's scores while reminding us that "modern" instruments can still play the daylights out of these pieces just as credibly as their most revered ancient ancestors. (I place "modern" in quotes because Fischer actually plays a 1742 Guadagnini!)
The first thing you notice--it's the famous "double" concerto--is not Fischer's playing but rather the wonderfully agreeable ensemble, how everything just fits so well together. And in this work that's just how it should be. Of course, we perhaps shouldn't be surprised because no orchestra is better at this sort of thing than the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields--and Fischer has carefully chosen her partner, "Sasha" Sitkovetsky, with whom she had previously performed and who had shown an obvious artistic/interpretive compatibility with her in Bach. There's absolutely nothing studied about these performances; the give and take between the soloists is easy and playful and fun--the way Fischer believes these concertos should be realized.
None of this is to suggest that Fischer is anything less than serious regarding her technique or interpretive decisions. She may play the fast movements of the A minor concerto slightly faster than some, but there is no sense of frenzy, nor is her tone ever coarse, and unlike many of her speed-demon colleagues, every detail--runs, rapid turns and bow-crossings--are absolutely clear, clean, and comfortably executed. The slow movements are lovely and lyrical and uncorrupted with any hint of inappropriate romantic mannerism. In fact, Fischer's Bach sounds as natural and effortless as if she were born to it--and given that she was playing the A minor concerto when she was five(!) and had a lesson in Bach playing from Yehudi Menuhin at age 11, that's not far from the truth! We've seen and heard our share of beautiful and very talented violinists during the last 10 years or so, and most have quietly vanished from the spotlight; but given her obvious dedication and consistently impressive work so far, it's a good bet that Julia Fischer is going to be a major virtuoso presence for many years to come.
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Concerto for 2 Violins in D minor, BWV 1043 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Julia Fischer (Violin),
Alexander Sitkovetsky (Violin)
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Written: 1717-1723; Cöthen, Germany
Featured Sound Samples
Concerto for 2 Violins in D minor, BWV 1043: II. Largo ma non tanto
Concerto for Oboe and Violin in C minor, BWV 1060: III. Allegro
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