Julia Fischer

Born to German-Slovak parents, Julia Fischer began violin lessons aged three, though she really wanted to be a pianist like her mother. She was persuaded to pursue the violin by her mother’s desire for a variety of instruments in the household. This slightly serendipitous start to learning the violin is not reflected in her meteoric progress. At six Fisher began lessons at the Leopold Mozart Conservatory in Augsburg and three years later became a pupil of Ana Chumachenco at the Munich Academy. At eleven she won the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition.

In 2008 she made her professional piano début at the Alte Oper, Frankfurt, performing Grieg’s Piano Concerto with the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie conducted by Matthias Pintscher. In the same concert she also performed Saint-Saëns’s Violin Concerto No. 3! Fischer became artist in residence of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra in 2006 (under Yakov Kreizberg, who had directed her first disc for PentaTone in 2004—Russian violin concertos with the Russian National Orchestra—which was awarded the ECHO Klassik prize). In 2006 she recorded the Tchaikovsky Concerto with the same performers, the year in which she was voted Best Newcomer by BBC Music Magazine for her disc of Bach sonatas and partitas for solo violin.

A recent project has seen Fischer pursuing an interest in contemporary music, giving the première of Matthias Pintscher’s Piano Trio with Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Daniel Müller-Schott, as well as Lorin Maazel’s Violin Concerto.

Fischer’s playing is characterised by both brightness and sensitivity. Arguably, some of the larger, denser works do not suit her strengths. The Brahms Concerto (2007), whilst a technically accomplished reading, is somehow a little too light, with some rather strained G-string sounds in the first movement and a sense of tonal weakness generally; by contrast, the Khachaturian (2004), also a big work with very significant technical demands, is persuasive, the brighter and more exotic orchestration matching Fischer’s lithe tone rather better. It is in earlier works that Fischer seems most at home. Her 2005 recording of J.S. Bach’s solo sonatas and partitas is best represented by BWV 1002 which is clean, resonant and phrased with considerable intelligence; this is not a historically-aware performance (it exhibits pronounced vibrato and the like) but there is a cleanliness and sense of line that elucidates Bach’s subtle yet clear textures and ideas admirably. Also included here is a sensitive and beautifully-voiced Schubert A minor Sonatina (2009—Fischer also plays the secondo part in Schubert’s F-minor Fantasia for piano duet on this disc), and a fine performance of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 in D (2006), with Fischer’s own cadenzas in the first two movements and Joachim’s in the finale.

© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Milsom (A–Z of String Players, Naxos 8.558081-84)