Sunday, April 20, 2014
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New Classical Tracks: Mozart violin concertos

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Julia Fischer and Yakov Kreizberg. (album cover)
Mozart: Violin Concertos Nos. 3 & 4 —Julia Fischer/Yakov Kreizberg, Netherlands Chamber Orchestra (PentaTone Classics 5186 064)

St. Paul, Minn. — You may have heard Mozarts 250th birthday is coming up later this month. Mozarts music is universal, so his musical genius is being celebrated globally with festivals, concerts, and lots of new recordings.

This new release features a young German violinist who is being hailed by reviewers as not just a talent but as a "full-fledged phenomenal violinist." Julia Fischer is just 23 years old and already shes leaving her mark on the musical world.

One year ago, the small independent label PentaTone Classics released Fischer's debut recording of Russian violin concertos with Yakov Kreizberg and the Russian National Orchestra to rave reviews.

On her second recording, Fischer and Kreizberg team up again, this time with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra.

Fischer has studied violin and piano since age 4. She was only 9 when she entered the Munich Academy of Music. She's been serious about her music for a long time, but she doesn't take herself too seriously. Every photograph I've seen of Julia Fischer shows her smiling, which tells me she loves making music. That enjoyment and passion come through on this new Mozart release.

In Mozart's mind, instrumental solo concertos were closely related to operatic arias, so much so that he even quoted directly from one of his own operas in his Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major. Mozart builds his concertos around a beautiful melody, allowing the soloist to take on the role of a singer.

Julia Fischer really capitalizes on the composers intent, which makes her an elegant Mozart interpreter. Not only does she play with technical perfection, the tone of her 1750 Guadagnini violin is remarkably sweet.

Mozarts Violin Concerto No. 4 in D is much more virtuosic than the G major concerto, and its very festive, with dance rhythms that make it hard to keep your feet still. With her technical ability and beautiful sound, Julia Fischer is in her element with this demanding concerto, which keeps the violin in the higher registers. As a virtuoso performer, Mozart never hesitated to write challenging solo parts for himself or others. In the finale of the fourth concerto he asks the violin to soar to the high "d" for the first and only time in any of his violin concertos. Plus, in the middle of this movement, he quotes from a folk melody, which was a popular tune of the day. That smile I see on Julia Fischer's face on the CD case comes through as pure joy in the music as she sails through this finale.

Mozart spent a lot of time perfecting his compositions or adapting them to the needs of a particular soloist. Sometimes he went so far as to replace a previously composed movement with a new one. Two of those substitute movements appear on this recording. Both were probably written for the talented Salzburg violinist Antonio Brunetti. The Rondo for Violin and Orchestra in B flat Major probably replaced the finale of the violin concerto Mozart wrote in that key. It also makes a great stand-alone encore piece. Just as Mozart did, Julia Fischer creates her own cadenza on this Rondo. In fact, she wrote her own cadenza for each movement of each concerto on this recording.

Playing the violin seems to be innate for Julia Fischer. Mozart is more than just the notes on the page and she knows that. Her phrasing, her effective use of dynamics and esthetic pauses, and her slow tempos give her music a spiritual quality. To put it simply, Julia Fischer is a true artist, absolutely, one of the "up-and-comers."

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