Julia Fischer in St.-SAENS Violin Concerto & GRIEG Piano Concerto (2010)

by | Dec 31, 2010 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Julia Fischer in St.-SAENS Violin Concerto & GRIEG Piano Concerto (2010)

Program: SAINT-SAENS: Violin Concerto No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 61; GRIEG: Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16
Performers: Julia Fischer, violin and piano/ Junge Deutsche Philharmonie/Matthias Pintscher
Studio: Decca Unitel Classical DVD 074 3344 [Distr. by Universal]
Video: 16:9 Color
Audio: PCM Stereo
Extras: Interview & documentary
Length: 63 minutes (concert); 48 minutes (interview feature)
Rating: ****

Julia Fischer (b. 1983) of Munich has established herself as a passionate, versatile musician, equally adept at the violin and piano, and this Decca video provides ample testimony to her prowess in both worlds. Filmed at the Alte Oper Frankfurt on 1 January 2008, performing with the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie under Matthias Pintscher, Fischer elegantly–and blisteringly–plays the Saint-Saens B Minor Concerto with flair and abandon. After intermission, whatever “willowy” aspects of her demeanor at the violin disappear, and her sinewy muscular arms and hands negotiate the familiar but lovely phrases of the A Minor Concerto of Grieg. Following the hour-long concert proper, we have an interview-documentary film by Christoph Engel, “Julia Fischer–Two Musical Worlds,” in German, conducted mostly around the Lake Starnberg area in Munich.

What emerges from the Andreas Morell concert video and the Engel documentary are Fischer’s dual personality: her sang-froid professionalism and her innate impetuosity. Fischer displays a wide color palette in her playing of the Saint-Saens, which exhibits her tendency to speed up and mold particular phrases–a decided challenge to any accompanist. In the Grieg, Fischer exudes as much tender refinement as she does athletic aggression. The documentary constantly refers to the concert performance: after a while, we long for some other musical examples, finally given in a brief allusion to the Prokofiev D Major Concerto and one actual lesson with another young woman on the Saint-Saens Havanaise in E Major. The Engel documentary wants to represent Fischer as a child of nature, walking along the pier or in the country, with virtually all of the Lake District to herself. Fischer elucidates on her attitude toward piano and violin performance, distinguishing the kinds of intimacy or power each releases. “I have always been proficient on each instrument,” she admits, courtesy of her musical mother. Her father’s interest in mathematics influenced her concept of musical form.  Add Bach’s collective musical works to the mix, and we have Fischer’s conceptual foundation for all her repertory.

The rather static approach to the interview–in one room in one pose–finds some relief in the nature of Fischer’s conversation, which takes in her reading of Shakespeare and Goethe, her fondness for the Munich Chamber Orchestra, and her appreciation of the young people’s professionalism in the orchestra led by Matthias Pintscher. The publicity for Fischer likes to refer to her as a “symphonic spirit.”  That she wishes to contribute to the collective musical life of Munich and the international community becomes vitally clear from the video, and we leave Fischer impressed with the seriousness and breadth of her commitment.

–Gary Lemco

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