sat 25/05/2024

Julia Fischer, Martin Helmchen, Queen Elizabeth Hall | reviews, news & interviews

Julia Fischer, Martin Helmchen, Queen Elizabeth Hall

Julia Fischer, Martin Helmchen, Queen Elizabeth Hall

Highly cultured violinist and pianist focus on tricky lateish Schumann

Fischer and Helmchen: A subtle duo making the most of Schumann's equal shares

An entire evening of Schumann for two would usually cue singer and piano. Not that the majority of Lieder specialists, blessed as naughty Anna Russell once saw it "with tremendous artistry but no voice", could hold the spell for that long. Julia Fischer is one of the half-dozen violinists in the world with the greatest artistry, a golden "voice" and a habit of choosing partners like Martin Helmchen, very much on her level. The only trouble is that Schumann songs can capture a world in 90 minutes, while the three lateish sonatas run a more limited if quirky gamut.

An entire evening of Schumann for two would usually cue singer and piano. Not that the majority of Lieder specialists, blessed as naughty Anna Russell once saw it "with tremendous artistry but no voice", could hold the spell for that long. Julia Fischer is one of the half-dozen violinists in the world with the greatest artistry, a golden "voice" and a habit of choosing partners like Martin Helmchen, very much on her level. The only trouble is that Schumann songs can capture a world in 90 minutes, while the three lateish sonatas run a more limited if quirky gamut.

It's clearly in the aphoristic inner mood-musics that the soul of the composer and his flickering love for Clara are embodied

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Comments

I wasn't going to miss this one, being a huge Julia Fischer fan, but I have to admit to being less than convinced by the presenting of three reasonably similar works by one composer, none of which I would call a masterpiece. I can't honestly recall the difference between any of the sonatas now (except for the 1st, which I knew a little), though I of course enjoyed the duo's performance of them. I wouldn't be suprised if a recording appears soon of these from this duo, and I'll enjoy getting to know them better with time and space between each of the works. But this kind of complete-works appraoch to concert programming is, I think, a little indulgent, and who wouldn't rather have heard one or maybe two of these alongside some other music?

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