In addition to his position with the turn-of-the-millennium model of the Beaux Arts Trio, South African violinist Daniel Hope has also cultivated a solo recording career. After a half-dozen discs released on AVS and Nimbus, Hope hit the big time as a soloist when he signed with Warner Classics and made his major-label debut in a wholly convincing coupling of Britten's exciting Violin Concerto with Berg's excruciating Violin Concerto accompanied by Paul Watkins leading the BBC Symphony. This 2006 disc coupling both Shostakovich's violin concertos is almost but not quite as convincing. Hope remains a superb player with an aggressive attack, a powerful tone, and an amazing technique, but his interpretations here don't measure up to the great performances of the past. He can surely hold his own with the best of his contemporaries' recordings of the works -- the muscular Vadim Repin and the emotional Maxim Vengerov have nothing on Hope in the super-virtuoso department -- but compared with Leonid Kogen's masterful recording or especially David Oistrakh's supremely expressive recordings, Hope's are not in the same league. This is comparison is particularly conspicuous because Hope's accompanist here is Maxim Shostakovich, the son of the composer who also accompanied Oistrakh in some of his finest recorded performances of the works, performances that sear and burn, that accuse and console, that capture the integrity and humanity of the works. Hope's addition of The Romance from The Gadfly is a wonderfully apt encore and his performance ideally balances irony and sentimentality. But, fine as his performances of the concertos are, listeners who don't already know Oistrakh's performances are urged to seek them out and then come back to Hope for arguably the finest performances of their time. Warner's sound is clear and warm, but perhaps a bit too close.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 77 (published as Op. 99)|
|Violin Concerto No. 2 in C sharp minor, Op. 129|
|The Gadfly Suite|