New CD of the Week | The Romantic Violinist: A Celebration of Joseph Joachim

Daniel Hope's father was an anti-apartheid activist.  His mother was the long-time manager for violinist, Yehudi Menuhin.  So, with humanitarianism and music in his blood it was only a matter of time before Hope's talents flourished, producing one of the finest violinist's of his generation.  Now, Hope pays homage to one of his great predecessors with The Romantic Violinist, calling attention to the far-reaching influence of Joseph Joachim through works dedicated to and composed by the 19th century icon. 

Joseph Joachim was a fully-developed violinist by the age of 12 when he revived the Beethoven Violin Concerto to great sensation under the direction of Felix Mendelssohn.  Joachim was closely connected to the leading composers of the 19th century.  He introduced Johannes Brahms to Robert Schumann.  Both composers wrote concertos for him and, in fact, in collaboration with him (same goes for Antonin Dvorak).  Had Joachim stuck around as concertmaster in Franz Liszt's orchestra, "we may have had a violin concerto by Liszt and possibly by Wagner," said Hope.  The centerpiece of The Romantic Violinist is yet another concerto Joachim "improved" to superior standards, composed by Max Bruch (Hope is joined by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra under Sakari Oramo). 

Fittingly, The Romantic Violinist includes a couple of Joachim's own short pieces plus music by his dear friend Johannes Brahms (never mind their infamous falling-out which led to that great work of reconciliation: the Brahms Double Concerto).  We find two Brahms Hungarian Dances arranged from Joachim's version for violin and piano.  The Romantic Violinist also features Brahms's Scherzo from the F.A.E. Sonata, based on Joachim's motto, Frei Aber Einsam (Free But Lonely).  Also here, a Romanze by Clara Schumann which she often performed with Joachim, as well as a treasured Humoresque by Dvorak (Joachim having been a critical champion of the Czech composer's music).  A highlight is the Brahms Lullaby (not the famous one) dedicated to Joachim's first child, sung on The Romantic Violinist by mezzo-soprano, Anne Sophie von Otter.

For the violin-lover, this recording is a must-have.