> Erich Wolfgang Korngold - Max Bruch [RB]: Classical Reviews- March 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957)
Violin Concerto
Much Ado About Nothing - suite
Theme and Variations

Max BRUCH (1838-1920)

Violin Concerto No. 1
Ulf Hoelscher (violin)
Radio Orchester, Stuttgart/Willy Mattes (Korngold)
Bamberg SO/Bruno Weil (Bruch)
rec 1974 ADD (Korngold); 1983 DDD (Bruch)
EMI CLASSICS RED LINE 7243 5 73251 2 7 [72.50]


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This is a upper budget price release in EMI's Red Line series.

The disc is primarily derived from an early 1970s Korngold LP fleshed out with 1980s-provenance digital Bruch. Neither orchestra is in the orthodox top-flight but each does better than creditably and Mattes and the Stuttgarters play as if possessed in the Korngold. The Bruch is extremely romantic with a gutsy rip and slash from Hoelscher and stormy in the manner of the Brahms concerto. It is a good-hearted performance with Hoelscher's jaguar attack overflowing with confidence, over-running the odd roughness.

Ten years previously the young Hoelscher was enlisted by EMI to capitalise on the then fresh Korngold renaissance driven by the Gerhardt-Palmer film series (RCA). This, at that time, was the only competition with the raw, voluptuous, overrated and ultimately fatiguing Heifetz recording. Hoelscher is able to make more of the piece not least because he is balanced a pace or two back toward the orchestra by comparison with Heifetz. I seem to recall that Hoelscher was the featured 30 year old soloist used by Previn in his BBCTV orchestral series when, daringly, they played a single movement from the concerto. Hoelscher plays like a angelic jaguar, reminding me, in his molten ferocious flow, of the tone of Albert Sammons in the Elgar Concerto (recently issued in the best sound so far by Naxos in a transfer by Mark Obert-Thorn). Until I played this superb disc again I had forgotten what a radiantly aggressive interpretation this is. It has been grievously buried by other more recent readings. The analogue sound still treats Hoelscher very kindly. How I wish I had tapes of Hoelscher in say the Delius, certainly in the Elgar and the Walton. For me he is up there with the Anima-Mathé on Dorian having yet more volatile accelerant and aggression about him than the Dallas sessions (by no means dull, by the way) were able to ignite.

The two lighter Korngold pieces are just that - light. Think in terms of Coates, Respighi (in the Hornpipe) and Montague Phillips although without the wince-making excesses. The absurd and macabre Dogberry and Verges movement is compromised a little by the sound of a Hammond organ. The sentimental sleepy Garden Scene is most beautifully shaped (as is the Theme from the Theme and Variations) complete with solo violin (presumably the leader of the orchestra not Hoelscher). The orchestra are alert and precise.

Hoelscher was born in Kitzingen-am-Main on 17 January 1942 and having learnt the instrument from his father made his concert debut in 1956. He later studied with Rostal (Cologne), Gingold (Indiana), Galamian (Curtis) and débuted in the major concert cities between 1971 and 1973. His command of the standard repertoire is wide but also includes Henze, Spohr, Wolf-Ferrari, Benjamin Frankel and Siegfried Wagner (the latter three with CPO). What is he doing now?

The liner note has plenty about the violin and about Hoelscher but nothing about the music.

I hope I have inflamed your interest enough for you to seek out this lion of a disc.

Rob Barnett

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