Few classical music fans can name a piece written by Joseph Joachim (1831-1907) yet most almost certainly know the music he inspired and championed. Without the Hungarian violinist-composer we wouldn’t have the Brahms Concerto in D or the Bruch Concerto in G minor, two of the pillars of the modern symphonic repertoire. Concertos by Dvorak and Schumann, as well as the Brahms Double Concerto also bear Joachim's stamp.
The British violinist Daniel Hope is setting out to present an even fuller picture of Joachim's creative legacy with "The Romantic Violinist," a collection that includes pieces dedicated to him and two of his own compositions. It’s our Album of the Week.
Born into a Jewish family in Hungary, Joseph Joachim (pronounced 'Yo-ACH-him') became venerated as a thinking man's answer to more populist virtuosos like Niccolò Paganini and Pablo de Sarasate. While studying under Felix Mendelssohn as a boy, Joachim took up the Beethoven Violin Concerto and his performance, at age 12, caused such a sensation that he effectively restored the forgotten piece to the repertoire. He later became a staunch advocate for Brahms and introduced the composer to Robert and Clara Schumann. Over a long career, Joachim championed a serious brand of music-making that left a lasting mark on the performance tradition.
Hope opens the album with a burnished reading of the Bruch Concerto No. 1 in G minor, a piece Joachim completely revised and improved. Four short pieces by Brahms are included, most surprisingly, the song "Geistliches Wiegenlied" (“Holy Cradle Song”), in which Hope takes up the viola and is joined by mezzo-soprano Anne-Sofie von Otter. Joachim was also a composer in his own right, with over 14 published works to his credit, and Hope applies a big romantic tone to two of his shorter gems: the youthful Romanze and the mature Notturno for violin and orchestra.
Rounding out the program is a lovely (if incongruous) Schubert song transcription by Hope and even Dvorak’s Humoresque in a glowing arrangement by Franz Waxman. Also joining Hope on the album are the pianists Sebastian Knauer and Bengt Forsberg and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic under the sensitive direction of Sakari Oramo.
The Romantic Violinist
Daniel Hope, violin
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Sakari Oramo, conductor
Check out the 'trailer' for the album and tell us what you think. Please leave a comment below: