“A violinist of probing intellect and commanding style… . In a business that likes tidy boxes drawn around its commodities, the British violinist Daniel Hope resists categorization.”– New York Times
Versatile British violinist Daniel Hope, who performed last week at the German parliament (the Bundestag), follows his muse from Bach to Berg and from Mendelssohn to Messiaen, not to mention collaborating with the likes of Sting and Klaus Maria Brandauer. Hope’s last album – featuring Vivaldi concertos, a sonata, and an aria with Anne Sofie von Otter – has been nominated for a 2010 Grammy Award for Best Small Ensemble Performance. Now the latest fruit of Hope’s exclusive relationship with Deutsche Grammophon, to be released on March 16 in the U.S., is a return to the Baroque alongside soloists from the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Hope’s Air. A baroque journey is a pan-European exploration of an adventurous era, taking in works by the rarely-heard Falconieri and Valente, dramatic gems by Westhoff and Marini, folk-accented dances from Matteis, Leclair, and Ortiz, full concertos by Telemann and Geminiani, and individual takes on such evergreens as Pachelbel’s Canon, the folk tune “Greensleeves”, and Bach’s sublime Air.
BBC Music magazine has already weighed in on Air. A baroque journey, calling it “a striking demonstration of the sheer variety and invention of Baroque violin composers.” And Gramophone magazine was even more lavish in its praise, exclaiming:
“This is an exciting disc, with a heady, pied-piper power over the listener that comes from realizing that the bright sense of discovery once felt by these composers is being experienced just as much by their modern-day interpreters. You can’t ask for much more than that.”
Pointing out how the stylistic and geographical cross-pollinations of the Baroque reflect the period’s spirit of “anything goes,” Hope says he is “fascinated by the radical change that took place at this time in history.” He continues:
“You can feel the breakthrough after the Renaissance. Suddenly, real individuals emerge, itinerant musicians like Nicola Matteis who traveled around Europe, bringing completely different music with them. It was a time of movement. This music has variety, wit, and vitality, and much of it was written to create an effect. Musicians wanted to please their audiences and to receive new commissions.”
In the CD booklet introduction to Air. A baroque journey, Hope writes about tracing the way music and musicians traveled in the 17th and 18th centuries: how a traveling composer-violinist such as the Italian Geminiani could influence the German-born Handel, how the Dresden-based Westhoff could inspire the Thuringian Bach, how the folk tunes of the British Isles could be heard in the compositions of the Neapolitan Matteis. The album represents the original ideal of crossover or, as Hope puts it, the sound of “cultural exchange taking place between musical minds across borders.”
Hope will help launch Air. A baroque journey in the U.S. with a live event in New York City (location TBD) on April 5. In January, when he played his Air program to inaugurate the Elgar Room, the Royal Albert Hall’s new performance venue, Britain’s Guardian newspaper described Hope’s: “artistry of breathtaking vitality” and the way “a tenderness of extraordinary richness took hold of the room,” concluding that “This was a memorable evening’s music-making.” The violinist has a dedicated web site for the album: www.hope-air.com. The site features streams of tracks from Air, along with video and print interviews with Hope about the disc and his collaborators (including wonderful second solo violinist Lorenza Borrani). Hope talks about some of his favorite tracks on the disc, which include the transcription of a plaintive harpsichord Sarabande by Handel.
When not making music, Hope is an enthusiastic writer and broadcaster. He recently debuted a wide-ranging video blog on his redesigned web site, www.danielhope.com. So far, Hope’s vblog has presented his conversations with the rock icon Sting, on the nexus of popular and classical music; mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, on music composed in the Nazi concentration camp Theresienstadt; and veteran conductor-scholar Christopher Hogwood, on Mendelssohn. Below is a list of Daniel Hope’s upcoming U.S. engagements
March 20-21, 2010 Los Angeles, CA Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor Schulhoff/Hope: Double Concerto Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra / Jeffrey Kahane, piano and conductor Performances in: Alex Theatre (March 20); Royce Hall (March 21)
March 23, 2010 Savannah, GA Telfair Academy Arensky: String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 35 Brahms: Sextet No. 1 in B-flat, Op. 18 Daniel Hope, violin; Benny Kim, violin; Philip Dukes, viola; Carla-Maria Rodrigues, viola; Keith Robinson, cello; Eric Kim, cello
March 25, 2010 Savannah, GA Telfair Academy Dvorák: Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-flat, Op. 87 Brahms: String Sextet No. 2 in G, Op. 36 Daniel Hope, violin; Gabriela Montero, piano; Gautier Capuçon, cello; Benny Kim, violin; Philip Dukes, viola; Carla-Maria Rodrigues, viola; Keith Robinson, cello; Eric Kim, cello
March 28, 2010 Savannah, GA Telfair Academy Mozart: Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, KV 478 Dvorák: Sextet in A, Op. 48 Daniel Hope, violin; Lorenza Borrani, violin; Philip Dukes, viola; Carla-Maria Rodrigues, viola; Keith Robinson, cello; Eric Kim, cello; Sebastian Knauer, piano; Benny Kim, violin
April 1, 2010 Savannah, GA Temple Mickve Israel (America’s third oldest temple) Schulhoff: String Sextet Schulhoff: Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 Gideon Klein: String Trio Zikmund Schul: Two Chassidic Dances arranged for violin and cello Pavel Haas: Suite for Piano Daniel Hope, violin; Lorenza Borrani, violin; Jeffrey Kahane, piano; Benny Kim, violin; Philip Dukes, viola; Carla-Maria Rodrigues, viola; Keith Robinson, cello; Eric Kim, cello
April 3, 2010 Savannah, GA Telfair Academy Copland: Prelude for Piano Trio Gershwin: Arrangements for Violin and Piano by Heifetz and Hope/Knauer John Williams: Devil’s Dance (from The Witches of Eastwick) O’Connor: String Quartet No. 3, “Old-Time” Bernstein: Three Songs from West Side Story Daniel Hope, violin; Benny Kim, violin; Mark O’Connor, violin; Carla-Maria Rodrigues, viola; Keith Robinson, cello; Eric Kim, cello
April 5, 2010 New York, NY Location TBD CD launch event Selections from Air