CD review: Bohemian Tales
… wowed by Augustin Hadelich’s richly characterised and subtly coloured account of the Brahms Concerto (Warner, 6/19), and his new recording of the Dvořák is equally impressive. How warmly his dolce playing seems to smile (listen at 6'05" in the opening Allegro ma non troppo, for example), and how his tone gleams with steely strength when called for (as at 9'35" in the same movement). He uses portamento with expressive elegance (the opening of the slow movement is a sublime example), and can whittle his tone down to the finest strand without losing tonal focus (try the Adagio’s coda at 9'41"). Note, too, the way Hadelich suggests a wiry-sounding folk fiddle in the finale’s D minor interlude (starting at 3'53"). […] A superb disc on all counts.

CD review: Brahms and Ligeti violin concertos
Augustin Hadelich’s performance of Brahms’s Violin Concerto abounds with subtle detail. Listen, for example, to the way he digs into his first phrases, showing tensile strength and sinew, then how little by little he softens and sweetens his tone leading into his first full statement of the main theme (at 4'29"). Hadelich has a sure sense of that vital Brahmsian ebb and flow, too. Indeed, his and Miguel Harth-Bedoya’s sense of tempo and pacing are sensible as well as sensitive throughout.

[...] Hadelich has written his own cadenza, and perhaps it’s the novelty, but I think I prefer it to Joachim’s. It’s brilliant yet serious and stylistically echt. Note how he slowly ratchets up tension, setting up the touching moment where the second theme floats in alt and unadorned.

The Ligeti Concerto is also given what might be described as a traditional reading [...] Still, Hadelich has an final ace up his sleeve by using Thomas Adès’s cadenza at the end – and, man, it’s a doozy. Slyly humorous, acutely dramatic, jaw-dropping in its technical demands, and ultimately satisfying, both in the way he brings back ideas from previous movements (as if desperately tying up loose ends) and in creating a seamless segue that makes the abrupt falling-down-the-stairs coda feel inevitable. You’ve got to hear it.


CD review: Echoes of Paris
This imaginative recital disc dips into the bubbling cauldron of artistic ideas that distinguished Paris in the early decades of the 20th century, drawing on sonatas by Debussy and Poulenc, and Stravinsky’s Pulcinella, to illustrate the breadth and variety of expression that the city could foster and entertain. Prokofiev also nudges himself in because of his Parisian exile in the 1920s and ’30s, though his Second Violin Sonata – a reworking of the Flute Sonata – was written when he was back in Russia in the 1940s.

Hand in hand with the intelligence of the programming go the wondrous playing of the violinist Augustin Hadelich and his like-minded pianist Robert Kulek. These are exceptionally compelling performances, sharply defined in character, immaculately articulated, rich in interpretative acumen and blessed with extraordinary finesse. Hadelich has a marked and dynamic capacity to identify and convey the qualities that render each composer so individual, the juxtaposition of Poulenc’s Sonata and Stravinsky’s Pulcinella offering perhaps the most graphic example. The Poulenc, dedicated to the memory of Federico García Lorca, has a dramatic intensity allied to that winsome tunefulness and sanguine harmony that were Poulenc’s stocks in trade. The Stravinsky, here played in the 1925 transcription that the composer made in collaboration with the violinist Paul Kochanski as opposed to the usual Samuel Dushkin one, is, by contrast, spare, astringent, grippingly incisive and vibrant of colour. The players also get right to the nub of Debussy’s Sonata and the Prokofiev on a disc that cannot be recommended highly enough.

Outstanding musicianship separates Augustin Hadelich from the pack (Flying Solo)
Augustin Hadelich (born 1984) has already won acclaim for his recordings of Haydn and Telemann. Now he tackles a programme of technically challenging works, one, moreover, where each composer presents different difficulties. He meets and surmounts all obstacles, yet it's not technical wizardry that most impresses but his musicianship. He makes the musical sense of each piece crystal clear, and his playing has an inner life; each phrase, each note, is felt as it's played. The Bartók third movement, "Melodia", has constant expressive variation of tone colour and emphasis, and the sonata's Hungarian character comes out particularly strongly, due to Hadelich's idiomatic rhythmic sense.
In the Fourth Paganini Caprice, Hadelich is unusually successful in integrating the sustained music with the intervening brilliant passages, and the Ninth Caprice is delightfully buoyant - it's good to hear this piece as Paganini wrote it, without the traditional added harmonics near the end. Of the Ysaÿe sonatas, No 3 is given an appropriate sweeping narrative character, while in No 5 Hadelich maintains a beautiful tranquillity for the initial portrayal of dawn and, in the following "Danse rustique" catches exactly the poised rhythmic quality the composer asks for. The Zimmermann makes a spectacular conclusion to the recital; Hadelich has clearly grasped the full import of its intense, climactic final toccata.


Nominated for 2021 Grammy!

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