Ulf Hoelscher: Beethoven Violin Concerto in D Op. 61 - EMI 27 0278 1 (DDD)
Jacket NM / LP NM
This handsome LP – a like-new collector’s copy – from EMI (067-2702781, West German pressing, large dog semi-circle label / DMM · Direct Metal Mastering, DDD stereo) features Ulf Hoelscher’s sublime rendition of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major Op. 61, made with conductor Hans Vonk and the Staatskapelle Dresden in the warm and rich acoustics of the Lukaskirche, Dresden on 3 December 1984 (producers: Christfried Bickenbach and Eberhard Geiger / engineer: Eberhard Hinz).
Wrote the veteran critic Edward Greenfield in his review for the July 1986 issue of The Gramophone:
“Like Kantorow's the new version from Ulf Hoelscher, recorded in Dresden, is exceptionally sympathetic, the most positive performance I have yet heard this talented German violinist give on record. In the profile of Hoelscher which appears on the LP in place of a conventional sleeve-note, he is quoted as saying that 'People are often bored to death when they hear the Beethoven Concerto these days, because it's so slow". Quite a few targets are suggested there including his rival on the same label, Perlman—only Perlman could never be counted boring. Hoelscher's speeds are only marginally faster, and never for a moment sound rushed—crisp and alert rather with plenty of time for expressive detail, though his deliberate avoidance of what he calls "pretty notes" does mean less hush, less poetry, not helped by the relatively close placing of the soloist. The parallel with Wolfgang Schneiderhan is underlined in that Hoelscher uses the cadenzas which that stylish master based on Beethoven's own cadenzas for the piano version of this concerto (DG/Jochum—only available on cassette 413 145-4GW). With their elaborate use of the timpani in the very long first movement cadenza, they certainly draw attention to themselves. Hoelscher's tone here sounds fuller than Schneiderhan's used to be on record, and in the slow movement the legato phrasing is so seamless, that each theme appears with little of the usual sense of new arrival. The finale is taken fast with Hoelscher totally unmannered and at ease except that little sense of fun is conveyed. That is even more due to the rather aggressive, sometimes heavy accompanimcnt from Vonk and the Staatskapelle, Dresden. The recording is very vivid and full, but with fairly heavy reverberation it is a sound I find rather wearing in tuttis, not always clean enough on detail.”
Incidentally, the striking cover photo of Hoelscher was taken by Evelyn Richter. The superb liner notes on the reverse side of the jacket – provided in German, English, and French – were written by Clive R. Williams.