Artist of the Year

Who would be a young, talented violinist these days? Having talent (and even good looks, always a marketer’s dream) on your side may no longer be enough to guarantee a stellar career. Because at a time when some violinists we regard as seasoned performers – the Vengerovs and Repins – are still in their early thirties, the ranks of the even younger fiddlers are crowded indeed. There are at least 10 first-class violinists jostling for pride of place, with Hilary Hahn, Janine Jansen, Sergey Khachatryan and Lisa Batiashvili among them. This, though, was Julia Fischer’s year.

After a string of increasingly impressive recordings, not least a direct, unsentimental (and all the more moving for it) Tchaikovsky Concerto, came some very special Brahms. The Violin Concerto is coupled with the Double Concerto and, as Gramophone attested at the time, in that one recording Fischer leapt ahead of the pack to join the ranks of the greats. “An outstanding disc,” wrote Edward Greenfield in his review. “Fischer’s performance never feels self-conscious or too studied and her range of tone and dynamic is extreme, bringing pianissimi of breathtaking delicacy.” The performances are filled with heart, with soul, as Fischer’s violin plumbs the emotional depths without once sounding lachrymose. It is the mark of a performer whose time has come.

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