A Violinist of Promise and Polish

Julia Fischer made a strong impression with the BSO.
Julia Fischer made a strong impression with the BSO. (Baltimore Symphony Orchestra)

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Even among the throng of talented young violinists swarming our concert halls of late, Julia Fischer has been a conspicuous standout. This 22-year-old German performed the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at Meyerhoff Hall on Thursday, confirming the promise heard on her impressive spate of recent CDs.

Beethoven's serene, Apollonian concerto might not wear its virtuosic heart on its sleeve as some later romantic works do. But its balance of poise and ardor, of architectural clarity and seeming spontaneity, makes it one of the toughest nuts to crack in the repertoire. Fischer met all those demands handsomely, teasing out the subtle unfolding of Beethoven's musical argument with notable skill. Her slender and silvery tone rendered phrase after phrase in the Larghetto as delicately whispered intimacies, but she possessed the power and the chops to create the illusion of multiple violinists playing the bravura, first-movement cadenza.

Yuri Temirkanov conducted forward-moving, extroverted accounts of the concerto and of Weber's "Euryanthe" Overture, placing an emphasis on gorgeously rounded woodwind tone. The winds displayed tremendous character again in Shostakovich's rangy, mercurial Symphony No. 1 alongside pungent, very Russian-sounding brass and strings that took on an unexpected opulence in the slow movement. The composer's way of conjuring elfin lightness, then steamrolling it with blasts of militaristic brass, played well into Temirkanov's feeling for the music's ironic humor, and the BSO dove into this wild score with abandon.

-- Joe Banno


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