Daniel Hope's Air: A Baroque Journey

Friday, March 19, 2010

In this week's Full Rotation, British violinist Daniel Hope sets out to present the many diverse strands of Baroque music.

The violinist Daniel Hope is one of classical music's Renaissance Men. Born in South Africa and raised in London, his resume includes concertos with the world’s top orchestras as well as jam sessions with musical friends like Stewart Copeland of The Police. He’s played jazz and Indian ragas and he’s championed music written by composers suppressed by the Nazis. He’s written a memoir about his family history and built a sizable discography on three major labels.

With his latest venture, he's not resting on his laurels. Air: A Baroque Journey spotlights several neglected composers who took the first steps of making the violin the concert instrument it is today. As Hope explains in his liner notes, this was a period of cultural exchange and the meeting of “musical minds across borders.” He hones in on single movements from relatively obscure larger works, including Ciaccona by Andrea Falconieri, which sounds a bit like a rustic hoedown, Ground after the Scotch Humour by Nicola Matteis, and the delicate lute-like melody of Johann Paul von Westhoff’s Imitazione del liuto.

In addition to the rarities, there are several old favorites here. Handel’s Sarabanda (HWV 437) has a supple lilt with Hope supplying the finely woven passage-work. The Pachelbel Canon is given a startling treatment, played almost at double time from the usual heavy tread heard at weddings. And Bach’s Air on a G String sounds particularly beautiful as Hope is joined by members of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe join. There is also a pair of concertos by Telemann and Geminiani, which like the other pieces in this collection, show that Hope is willing to draw from period-instrument style (no vibrato, brisk tempos) while also emphasizing the full modernity of this music.

Air: A Baroque Journey

Daniel Hope, violin

Available at Arkivmusic.com

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