Violinist Julia Fischer enchanted Symphony Hall this week with her performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Riccardo Muti. This is the first time Ms Fischer and Mo Muti have collaborated, and the four subscription concerts earned profound admiration from the audiences and classical press.

John von Rhein in The Chicago Tribune writes:

“…And serenity was the word that sprang to mind while one listened to Julia Fischer’s meditative, raptly beautiful and deeply felt account of the Beethoven Violin Concerto. …One heard that in the unfolding climb in octaves at the violinist’s entry, a passage other soloists treat assertively but Fischer played so gently that her voice rose almost imperceptibly from the orchestra. Her tone was pure and fine-spun throughout, blessed with seemingly infinite shadings. Her bow arm and accuracy of intonation remain a marvel. …

“There was no lack of command, even in her searching and spacious treatment of the central larghetto where careful observance of Beethoven’s many dolce (sweet) markings surrounded the singing line with a rapt spiritual aura. Here Muti’s mellow wisdom made him an ideal musical partner, and he framed her performance with strong, well-defined orchestral tuttis. Fischer reserved her most extroverted playing for the cadenzas: Even the lightly sprung rhythms of the finale adhered to an essentially lyrical and reflective view of this towering masterpiece.

The violinist’s encore — the Sarabande from J.S. Bach’s solo violin Partita in D minor (BWV 1004) — was a thing of grave, dignified beauty all by itself. Like the Beethoven that preceded it, her reading showed why she makes some virtuoso fiddlers of her generation appear merely showy in contrast: Fischer makes music, not sport.”

The Chicago Sun Times’ Hedy Weiss writes:

“Julia Fischer, the acclaimed 33-year-old German-born violinist with whom Muti clearly shares an ideal synergy, brought something far beyond exquisite technique to her performance, capturing every emotional shift with the greatest subtlety and precision. …

“Fischer lured her audience into a state of intense listening: From strains of melody that are just barely audible; to a full-bodied lyricism notable for its delicate articulation and the sweetness and fervency of its tone; to slow, pensive passages played with the most confident understatement; to bravura sections expressing the sort of inner triumph that often emerge in a Beethoven work.

“Although she is a bravura musician, Fischer is not one for showy theatrics. Yet she puts her personal stamp on every line. In a long solo section her single violin at times sounded almost as if there were actually two violins at work. And throughout, her playing had the effect of making her instrument take on the shadings of a human voice. This, of course, is exactly what Muti, whose roots in opera are so deep, continually does with the CSO as a whole. Everything sings, with the full string section of the orchestra particularly full of color and nuance. …

“Muti selects his soloists with great attention to their interpretive powers, and it would be difficult to imagine a more perfect synchrony than the one forged here between Fischer and the orchestra. They were as one at every moment. A prolonged standing ovation for Fischer led to an encore. And even the choice of this work – Bach’s “Sarabande from Partita in D minor” – reflected a deep thoughtfulness. Listen carefully and it is like hearing the early “skeletal” pattern for the solo passages in the Beethoven concerto.”


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