Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Chad Hoopes plays Mendelssohn and Adams violin concertos

Mendelssohn, Adams; Chad Hoopes, MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra, Jarvi; naive
Reviewed by Hilary Glover on Oct 13 2014
Star rating: 4.0

Fascinating pairing of violin concertos from young American violinist

Listening to his first recording it is hard to believe that Chad Hoopes is only 19. His surety and understanding of the music is as clear as his talent. His approach though, is one without overt sentimentality, letting the music speak for itself.

Hoopes won the junior first prize at the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition in 2008 and since then has played with major orchestras across his native USA (San Francisco Symphony, Utah Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Houston Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra), Canada, as well as Europe (including Brussels, Wales and Norway).

In 2011-12 he was the Artist-in-Residence for Classical Minnesota Public Radio, and last year won the Cleveland Arts Prize. He is currently studying performance at the Kronberg Academy in Germany, but has previously trained at the Cleveland Institute of Music, the National Arts Centre in Ottowa, and at the Heifetz Institute, USA. He plays a 1713 Antonio Stradivari violin on loan from Jonathan Moulds.


Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) wrote his 'Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64' (1844) for his childhood friend Ferdinand David. It was to be Mendelssohn's last major orchestral composition and took six years to complete, with its premiere in 1845.

Although in the standard three movements (fast slow fast), with a sonata form and coda first movement, it was novel for the time because the violin enters practically from the start rather than waiting until the orchestra had introduced the main themes (single rather than double exposition). Mendelssohn collaborated with David, repeatedly sending ideas and corrections, even up to the premiere, and consequently the cadenza passages are written out rather than being left for the soloist to decide upon.

The second movement opens in C major and is the epitome of Romantic lyricism and song - reminding us of the idea behind 'Leider ohne Worte'. Here the violin uses octaves and double stopping to self accompany and moves to a minor mode before returning to C. The final sonata-rondo movement is set in E major rather than the minor of the first movement adding to the brilliance of the solo passages.

There are several similarities between the Mendelssohn and John Adams's (1947-) 'Violin concerto' written in1993 and premiered in 1994. It too is in a standard three movements, even with a cadenza towards the end of the first 'Crotchet = 78' movement, and it was written for a specific performer, Jorja Fleezanis, with whom Adams collaborated. Despite the differences between Romanticism and Minimalism, Adams like Mendelssohn was "concerned" about lyricism and tunes, giving the soloist, who plays from the start, an "endless melody" about which the whole first movement revolves.

The slow second movement is based on a Baroque 'Body Through Which the Dream Flows' where the violin "floats like a disembodied spirit around and about the orchestral tissue" and the final movement 'Toccare' uses the same ideas as his 1978 'Shaker loops' resulting in a perpetuum mobile which moves between the violin and orchestra in a furious dance.

This début recording not only shows the virtuosic promise of Chad Hoopes but also the impeccable performance of Kristjan Järvi and the Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra. This is a young man to keep an eye on.
Reviewed by Hilary Glover

Chad Hoopes and MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra (directed by Kristjan Järvi) – Mendelssohn Adams Violin Concertos (March 31, 2014) [58:35]
Recorded November 2013 at the MDR-Studio Leipzig (Augustusplatz)
1. Allegro molto appassionato
2. Andante
3. Allegretto non troppo - Allegro molto vivace
4. I.
5. Chaconne: body through which the dream flows
6. Toccare

Naive

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