MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto No 2 ADAMS Violin Concerto
Bravo to the young American violinist Chad Hoopes for choosing such an unusual coupling of concertos for his debut CD. The Mendelssohn E minor might be at the very core of the repertoire but his espousal of the John Adams hints at an investigative spirit and a range of tastes that is refreshing.
His performance of the Mendelssohn, if accompanied no more than reliably by the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra under Kristjan Järvi, points to a musician with all the technical gifts that these days are accepted as norms but also with stylistic taste, purity of tone and an attractive blend of flair and interpretative discretion. In time – he is still only 19 – he will find that the music can withstand, and benefit from, a little more breathing space on occasion; but the youthful ardour that he brings to his playing is appealing.
John Adams’s Concerto, composed in 1993 for Jorja Fleezanis, who gave the premiere in Minnesota the following year, taps Hoopes’s lyricism and dexterity to gainful effect. Here he is up against the classic recording by Gidon Kremer on Nonesuch but newcomers to the Concerto – or, indeed, advocates of the Kremer – will not be disappointed with Hoopes’s understanding and realisation of the Adams idiom, most hauntingly voiced in the Chaconne of the slow movement, where, as Adams says, ‘the violin floats like a disembodied spirit around and about the orchestral tissue’. Here and in the hectic rhythmic pulse of the finale Hoopes is in his element.