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Your monthly critical round-up of performances, recordings and publications

THIS MONTH’S RECOMMENDED RECORDINGS Our pick of the new releases

Rachel Podger

plays the Bach Cello Suites on the violin PAGE 86

Afecing Elgar from the Brodsky Quartet PAGE 88

Gidon Kremer performs dazzling Weinberg PAGE 92

New York

Intensity and ire from Gauier Capuçon and Yuja Wang



It is inspiring to watch former string quartet members strike out on their own after leaving the hallowed halls of a chamber music marriage: Becca Fischer of the Chiara Quartet did this with remarkable bravery inther performance of newly written works for solo violin at Millertheatre. She presented seven short pieces – all composed by women.

Returning Souls by Shih-Hui Chen was a short but lovely start to the programme, followed by Jessie Montgomery’s Rhapsody no.1, a delicate piece reminiscent of Ysaÿe, illed with beautiful, searching phrases of leaps and double stops and bits of melody. Although not perfectly executed, Fischer did the spirit of the work great justice. She gave a lovely introduction to Missy Mazzoli’s wonderful Dissolve, O Mytheart: ‘her use of space and time, especially the contrast of large spaces and very small spaces, is never exactly predictable but always just right.’the entirely muted opening section was perfectly timed on Fischer’s part, and whilether longer phrases were quite beautiful, the contrasting dance-like sections could have been a bit wilder, with larger and less careful gestures.

Time Is a Cage (Suzanne Farrin) was introduced as ‘an exercise in colour and timbre’. Fischer achieved some lovely efects with the extended techniques in this piece – luttery trill harmonics and very efective sul tasto playing.the most melodic work on the programme, Paola Prestini’s For Becca, had some nice phrases, but Fischer seemed a littlethesitant, and I felt it could have been played with more conidence. Lisa Bielawa’s One Atom of Faith was the most captivating work on the programme, with Fischer singing a text about a young woman struggling withther soul while accompanyingtherself on the violin. She gave a truly captivating performance of this very intimate musical and personal conversation.


A wonderful piece closed the evening – the ‘Firelies’ movement from Gabriela Lena Frank’s Suite Mestiza. Fischer (above) captured the character of the piece, although there were a few too many missed notes, imperfect harmonics and moments of questionable intonation to make the performance truly great. Howeverther commitment to each work – along with the clarity of what she wanted to communicate andther strong personal connection to each piece – yielded a satisfying programme.




The Artemis Quartet took a serious but beautiful approach to Barber’s famous Molto Adagio, and I especially loved the cellist’s elegance, satiny phrases and impressive bow control. Britten’s String Quartet no.2 followed, and the opening unison was illed with youthful curiosity and playfulness.the Quartet’s extremely articulate playing, clear characters and outstanding ensemble – especially in the energy of the bowing – brought the work to life.the cadenzas in the inal movement were all powerfully played, with good control and character – although I missed opportunities for vulnerability or tenderness in the piece.

Schubert’s sensational String Quartet no.14 in D minor ‘Death and the Maiden’ followed the interval, and the Allegro showed of the brilliant spiccato of the ensemble (especially from the irst violin), as well as nuanced time-taking.the second theme in the cello was beautifully understated and quite elegant. I loved the breathy bell-tones in the opening of the Andante and the pristine intonation and thoughtful use of vibrato led to many tender moments in the movement.the cello variation was particularly powerful – intimate and playful all at once, and quite special.the quartet inished with great energy although the inal Presto seemed to run away a bit, teetering just on the edge tempo-wise.

A Bach chorale closed the evening and the quartet’s purity of sound was a ittingly simple ending to the programme.




It might have been diicult to tell which members of this eager audience came for Gautier Capuçon’s elegant intensity, or for Yuja Wang’s iery pianism.the reality is that the two of them combined (as part of Wang’s Perspectives series for Carnegie Hall) were more than the sum of the parts, which is always happy news.

The opening of Franck’s Violin Sonata in A major (in Jules Delsart’s transcription) had languid repose. Capuçon’s restraint was matched by his spot-on intonation – even high on the strings. In the inal movement, both artists were swept away by the chase, with many listeners likely humming the unforgettable theme at the interval.

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About The Strad

Antoine Tamestit discusses his new recordings and we examine his viola, the 1672 ‘Gustav Mahler’ Stradivari. There’s a look at string teaching in Uganda and we have interviews with Sol Gabetta, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Gary Hoffman, Natalie Clein – and many more!