Journey to Mozart

Daniel Hope, violin

Zurich Chamber Orchestra

Deutsche Grammophon, 2018

 

After the wonderful, inspiring album For Seasons released in 2017, violinist Daniel Hope invites us to follow him in his Journey to Mozart. The new recording develops in chronological order presenting works composed by Mozart’s forerunners and contemporaries Gluck, Haydn and Mysliveček, culminates in Mozart’s Violin Concerto no. 3 in G major K216 and in the Adagio for Violin and Orchestra in E major K 261. Then, it leaves the protagonist for Salomon’s Romance for Violin and Strings in D major and ends with an arrangement for violin of the popular Rondo “Alla turca” from the Piano Sonata No. 11 in A major K 331. Overall, Journey to Mozart «is a reflection of the Age» as Hope «see[s] and hear[s] it».

Proportion and Balance

Journey to Mozart is one of those recordings where you find proportion and balance from any point of view, both for what concern the selected pieces and for their performance. It is obvious that every detail of this album has been scrupulously considered. The works are complementary to one another and highlight their reciprocal differences or similarities.

Gluck and Mozart share the same ability to explore and reflect in music the troubles of the human soul. On the contrary, Haydn and Mozart are juxtaposed. As Hope explains in the booklet notes, «Haydn remains rooted in beauty, whereas Mozart really takes off. With Haydn I hear elegance and nobility: a perfect style filled with a sense of propriety. Mozart, too, champions these virtues but this is not enough for him – he simply can’t leave it at that».

At last, the presence of Mysliveček and Salomon in this collection is due to the influence that Mozart had on them.

The same order and discipline that characterize the tracklist belongs to the performance too. Hope, together with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, offers another sample of his musicianship and exquisite taste and provides this “journey” with the indispensable technical brilliance, warmth and soulful feelings.

The Performance

Journey to Mozart opens with two Dances from Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, the Dance of the Furies and the Dance of the Blessed Spirits. The very beginning of the recording is therefore characterized by a frenzied and turbulent atmosphere, to which the next piece offer a striking contrast. In the Dance of the Furies, Hope and the orchestra emphasize the restless character of the music, while in the Dance of the Blessed Spirit they convey an idea of bliss.

Haydn’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in G major is a gallant work. The performers seem to enjoy deeply the charming atmosphere of the Concerto and in their rendition they successfully give prominence to the refinement of the music of the Allegro moderato, where some hints of amusement are perfectly in tune with its elegance, to the calm melody of the Adagio, where the solo violin lingers on the most soaring melodies with just a hint of melancholy, and the sparkling Allegro where, differently from the first movement with which anyway it shares the mood, there is more firmness in its character.

In the short Larghetto from Mysliveček’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major, the sadness of the music cannot overshadow the graceful playing of the soloist and the orchestra.

Mozart’s Violin Concerto and Adagio

After this piece, Journey to Mozart arrives to its pivotal work, Mozart’s Violin Concerto, which reveals from the first bars of the Allegro its inspiration and wit. These features are equally represented by Hope and the orchestra: listen for example to the amusing sound of the strings, which effectively prepare the entry of the soloist. However, hints of deeper thought appears from time to time – a mood which is fully developed in the Adagio, a movement which is remarkable for its warm tone. The final Rondeau. Allegro returns to the feelings of the first movement, but it reveals a new consciousness behind its brightness and lively colours.

The Adagio K261 is performed in accordance with its simple and yet beautiful melody. While Hope plays his part with such transport and emotion to be deeply affecting in certain passages, the orchestra describes a pensive and delicate atmosphere which makes the entire piece a delight.

The last two pieces represent the departure from Mozart (this is the case of Salomon’s Romance) and a summary of Journey to Mozart (the Rondo “Alla turca”). The Romance is a wonderful work where Mozart is re-examined in a Romantic direction. In Hope’s performance, it is played with expressiveness and taste. The Rondo, arranged for violin orchestra by Olivier Fourés, is an amazing conclusion, where Mozart’s spirit is revealed with shimmering colours and vibrancy.

Conclusion

Journey to Mozart is a recording where feelings and musical skill are equally well represented. Daniel Hope is up to his reputation and his dazzling playing and emotional honesty make this recording as a memorable experience.


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