Ten Great Women Violinists… by Coco Tomita

Talented young Japanese violinist Coco Tomita shares ten great women violinists she admires and who have really inspired her over the years...

Coco

Japanese violinist Coco Tomita impressed when she won the strings category of the 2020 BBC Young Musician of the Year competition. Since then the UK/Germany-based musician has released a debut album on Orchid Classics (Origins, reviewed April 2022) and has enjoyed live appearances in the UK and Japan.

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The talented young musician shares ten great women violinists she admires and who have really inspired her over the years.

Janine Jansen
Dutch violinist Janine Jansen has taken the music world by storm and pushed the boundaries of expression to another level with her incredibly sensitive and sensual musicality. Personally, she has been a huge idol and inspiration for as long as I can remember. She never fails to move us with her wide soundworld, nuance of colouring and interpretation.

Here is a phenomenal performance and interpretation of Bartók’s First Violin Concerto…

Anne-Sophie Mutter
A violinist who cannot be missed off of this particular list, German violinist Mutter has remained, one of the most respected, accomplished artists and performers throughout her outstanding career. She is known especially for her champion interpretations of contemporary music with several works being composed especially for her.

A personal favourite of mine is a shining performance of the Glazunov Violin Concerto with the Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin…

Vilde Frang
Having had a period of time under the guidance of Professor Kolja Blacher, with whom I am now currently studying, I have great respect and admiration for the Norwegian violinist, Vilde Frang. She is not only a phenomenal soloist but also a keen and mesmerising chamber musician who I have greatly enjoyed hearing.

Here is a video that has left a huge impression on me, and has been one of my favourite interpretations of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, with the Berliner Philharmoniker…

Ginette Neveu
The heartbreaking death of Ginette Neveu would probably remain one of the great tragedies in violin history. A true artist that we unfortunately lost too early, Neveu is in my opinion is one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century. From an extremely young age, until the end of her life, she left behind indescribable legacy through her music and artistry.

That includes some phenomenal recordings, one being Chausson’s Poème. Profoundly eloquent and coloured, she manages to create and stretch the work to sound like one long unending phrase…

Midori
Japanese-born American Violinist Midori has shown herself to be one of the great violinists of our time. Not only is she known for being a profoundly accomplished musician, she has been committed to furthering humanitarian and educational progression. Her precision, technique, expression and dynamic performances have left me speechless and in awe many times.

Here is a brilliant performance of the devilishly difficult Last Rose of Summer by Ernst…

Isabelle Faust
An innovator herself, Isabelle Faust has the touch of a genius. Her interpretations of Baroque and Classical works have continued to blow my mind over the years. She brings out the authenticity in each work and considers the musical historical context. As a result, this manages to illuminate every piece of music she performs.

Below is a breathtaking performance of Beethoven’s violin concerto with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Mark Elder…

Ida Haendel
The polish-born prodigy, sometimes referred to as the ‘Grande Dame of the violin’, was one of the greatest violinists and enduring idols. She had a virtuosic and fiery sound with unassailable technique. Throughout her career she was praised for her eye-opening masterclasses and teachings. I was lucky enough to meet her when I was around ten years old. I was invited to perform for her and I remember her asking me, ‘what’s your favourite concerto?,’ I politely replied, ‘Brahms’s Violin Concerto’ and she proceeded to ask me to play it for her.

Having this legendary figure before me was already overwhelming enough, but as soon as this was asked of me, I was in a state of shock and panic. I nervously laughed and told her that I have yet to learn the piece and she eventually let the idea go. I remember that day like it was yesterday, and her presence remains dear and vivid in my memory.

A treasured recording is of Ida Haendel performing the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Radio Orchestra of Canada conducted by Franz-Paul Decker…

Alina Ibragimova
An outstanding violinist of vast versatility, from her interpretations of Baroque to contemporary commissions on both period and modern instruments. Alina Ibragimova has such a profound, heartfelt and honest expression in her playing that just fixates you completely.

Here’s an absolutely captivating performance of the second movement of Beethoven’s Spring Sonata with pia nist Kristian Bezuidenhout at the Wigmore Hall…

Hilary Hahn
Three-time Grammy Award-winning American violinist Hilary Hahn is known for her technical expertise, virtuosity and barrier-breaking approach to classical music. Her brilliance shines through in any work she takes on. She is an open artist on the social media scene, letting her many fans see into her daily practice routines, thoughts and obstacles. I have found this truly insightful and comforting as an aspiring musician myself.

Patricia Kopatchinskaja
Kopatchinskaja is someone who has embodied every possible aspect of being an artist and what that word represents, and has pushed every limit to its furthest. Every inch of her body and soul is expressed at all moments during her performances and it is absolutely mesmerising to witness. She has proven her unlimited talent and passion for what she does in the most honest and raw manner.

Here’s an unforgettable performance of Bartók’s Second Violin Concerto with the Finnish Radio Symphony, conducted by Sakari Oramo.

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Coco Tomita’s album ‘Origins’ is available now on Orchid Classics.