Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent disc, 14 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Berg & Britten: Violin Concertos (Audio CD)
I don't generally write reviews until I have lived with a recording for a while: I never know if a first love will cool or an initial liking will blossom or deepen. This one is one I like all the more each time I listen to it. I've had it for three months and have listened to it perhaps 20 times. That in itself shows how stimulating and enjoyable I find it because I buy a lot of CDs and don't always listen to them more than a few times in the first months of owning them.

Britten's own recording with Marc Lubotsky of his early Violin Concerto is attractive and very lyrical but is rather a low voltage affair. Vengerov tried to present it as a larger work but his account was merely prosaic and lacked magic. Hope's account convinces, where Vengerov failed, that the work is a major Violin Concerto. With Paul Watkins as an equal partner he presents a powerful work - they are strong but never neglect the dreamy side - and much as I have loved the Lubotsky/Britten recording I have no doubt that Hope and Watkins give us a much greater account of the work. Hope's tone is not as rich as many violinists but here he makes this work for him, playing with rigour and robustness. Hope's account is surely a leading recommendation for the Britten and seems more keenly focused and alive than the otherwise even more powerful account by the great Frank Peter Zimmermann.

Hope also presents a very strong coupling and does so by giving us a very distinctive and first class account of a much recorded work. Of course, we have long known that the Berg Concerto is a masterpiece and there have been many excellent recordings of it. Often these have showcased the passionate neo-romantic side of the work but sometimes they have been cooler. Both approaches can work but I find Hope's as convincing as any. Where Faust in her recent recording with Abbado is wildly passionate and romantic - her's is a very powerful reading - Hope is passionate, beautiful and unashamedly a modernist. Again there is a rigor to the playing that ensures coherence and communication and there is a beauty here that is very modern.
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