The conventional view of Niccolò Paganini's 24 Caprices puts them among the encores and etudes violinists use to hone their skills and show off their prowess. But Julia Fischer regards them primarily as expressive works that are as rich in lyricism and emotional color as they are in advanced techniques, and her 2010 Decca album shows her considered approach to the music. There's no doubt about Fischer's impressive abilities, which are apparent from hearing the first Caprice, and all the trickiest double- and triple-stops, bowing styles, and various means of articulation that are included in this fantastic work reveal her phenomenal gifts. But as amazing as Fischer's performance is for sheer technique, it is highly pleasurable because of her polished musicality and firm control of every nuance that is either overt or suggested in the music. Highly recommended. (AMG)
The Cleveland Orchestra is the "aristocrat among American orchestras" (The Telegraph), and the ensemble's music director Franz Welser-Most, leads them with verve and precision. These three discs from Belvedere (DVD and Blu-ray) feature six and a half hours of music, presenting a cycle of all the major orchestral works of Johannes Brahms. Included are the complete Symphonies and Piano Concertos, the Violin Concerto, the Tragic Overture, the Academic Festival Overture, and the Haydn Variations. Soloists include violinist Julia Fischer and pianist Yefim Bronfman.
Dvorák’s Violin Concerto has been undergoing a renaissance of sorts on disc, one that it entirely deserves. Its critics (starting with Joachim and Brahms) dismissed it for not adopting the usual sonata-form first movement structure, instead welding the truncated opening to the gorgeous slow movement. But really, how many violin concertos are there where you can really say that the best, most characterful and highly developed movement is the finale? And what could possibly be bad about that? Clearly Fischer and Suwanai understand where the music’s going: the performance gathers steam as it proceeds, and really cuts loose in that marvelous last movement. Suwani displays a characteristically polished technique and fine intonational ear (lending a lovely purity of utterance to the slow movement), but she’s not afraid to indulge in some “down and dirty” gypsy fiddling in the finale, or in the two Sarasate items that open the program.
"…It goes without saying that both protagonists here have more than the requisite technical fire power to cope with the demands - fortunately they use it with taste and restraint so that it never threatens to transform itself into a performance of proto-Brahms.The sound as well is of the same high standard as the playing and in every possible way, this issue cannot be faulted. Highly recommended and this listener is eagerly awaiting volume 2!" ~sa-cd.net
Ivan Fischer's version of these ever-popular classics is as valid an essay in stylistic restoration as the most scholarly period-instrument performance of Bach or Handel… The transcriptions have been reworked and in one or two movements an improvised cimbalom part has been added, played by a well-known Hungarian musician, Kalman Balogh. Not a record for purists perhaps, but I found the results invigorating and thought-provoking.- S.J. Gramophone, March 1987.
This account of the German Requiem really is one of the great recordings of the century. Even today, Otto Klemperer's monumental interpretation with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus, recorded in 1961, remains unmatched among readings that emphasize the spirituality of the score. Sober and sustained, but not unduly slow, it places Brahms on the continuum of German sacred music going back through Beethoven to Handel, Bach, and Schütz.