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Belle Epoque

Daniel Hope (violin), Simon Crawford-Phillips, Lise de la Salle (piano), Stefan Dohr (horn), Yibai Chen (cello); Zurich Chamber Orchestra (Deutsche Grammophon)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Belle Epoque
Chamber & Orchestral Works by Chausson, Debussy, Massenet, R. Strauss, Schoenberg, Elgar, Rachmaninov, Zemlinsky, Koechlin, Fauré, Ravel, Berg, Enescu, Juon, Bridge, Kreisler, Hahn & Webern
Daniel Hope (violin), Simon Crawford-Phillips, Lise de la Salle (piano), Stefan Dohr (horn), Yibai Chen (cello); Zurich Chamber Orchestra
DG 483 7244   144.50 mins (2 discs)


Daniel Hope’s take on the Paris-centred Belle Époque of 1871 to 1914 (between the Franco-Prussian and First World wars) also encompasses music from Vienna, Germany, Russia and England from the same richly imaginative era. So here is Chausson rubbing shoulders with early Schoenberg, Debussy with Richard Strauss, Rachmaninov with Elgar, plus some choice rarities (by the likes of Koechlin and Hahn), all spread across two discs – the first with Hope’s Zurich Chamber Orchestra, the second with his solo violin accompanied by Simon Crawford-Phillips.

The result is a colourful feast of finely performed original works and arrangements. Orchestral highlights include a gorgeously played ‘Méditation’ from Massenet’s Thaïs (showcasing Hope’s instinct for when to interpret and when to let the music just sing for itself); Richard Strauss’s song ‘Morgen’, with soprano Mojca Erdmann (the only time we hear her); and a coruscating performance of Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro, whose surging energy and optimism are offset by, at the Welsh folk-song quotation, a beautifully played viola solo. Minor reservations relate to some of the arrangements: for instance Chausson’s Concert for violin, piano and string quartet (a bit heavy with full strings) and Debussy’s Rêverie (a bit tricksy).

Among the violin-and-piano works are an early sonata movement by Ravel, itself a substantial addition to the repertoire; a roguish arrangement, by the composer himself, of Debussy’s ‘Minstrels’ from the piano Préludes; and both artists’ fantastically vivid delivery of Webern’s ultra-concentrated Four Pieces, Op. 7. Malcolm Hayes