ALBUM TITLE: Adams/Mendelssohn: Violin Concertos
WORKS: Adams: Violin Concerto; Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto No. 2
PERFORMER: Chad Hoopes (violin); MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra/Kristjan Järvi
CATALOGUE NO: V 5368
After a minute or so of the Mendelssohn, I wanted to tell violinist Chad Hoopes to relax: this is a hard-pressed performance, not helped by the close, dry recording. There’s a tendency to rush, and little time to cherish the music in terms of rubato or tonal refinement: that’s not to say that there isn’t tonal variety, but the overall impression is of a well-oiled machine.
The slow movement doesn’t ease up either, and Hoopes knocks almost a minute off the timings of Joshua Bell or Ray Chen, neither of whom are exactly slouches. Vibrato is tight and pretty unvaried, and again little real affection for the music come across, despite the technical perfection. The perpetuum mobile of the finale is more suited to Hoopes’s musical personality, but it’s a race to the finishing line from the outset.
Although Adams had moved on from his purer minimalist style by the time of the Violin Concerto in 1993, there are still motor rhythms in its outer movements, which are more in tune both with Hoopes’s playing and the recording. In the central chaconne, the many layers of the music are clearly balanced, and it unfolds in a measured way that would have been good to have heard in the Mendelssohn. If you are after this piece, there are more amenable couplings, though.