Frank Peter Zimmermann - The Complete Warner Recordings. © 2022 Parlophone Records Ltd

CD Spotlight

A Monumental Treasure Chest

GERALD FENECH listens to the complete Warner recordings of Frank Peter Zimmermann

'Inspired music-making that should keep you company for months on end ...'


A violinist of outstanding accomplishment and integrity, Frank Peter Zimmermann has for decades sustained achievement at the highest level as a concerto soloist, recitalist and chamber musician. As the New York Times has written: 'Mr Zimmermann's style is based on an absolutely clean technique and a true ability to let music unfold and develop at a natural pace.' Before recording any work in his repertoire, from essential masterpieces to intriguing rarities, Zimmermann has taken time to understand and define the meaning of every note in the context of his interpretation. As a consequence, each of these thirty albums – originally the fruit of his collaboration with EMI Classics (and Teldec) – bear witness to the grace, insight and authority of his playing.

Since the mid 1980s, Zimmermann has numbered among the leading violin soloists of his generation, and among the most prominent German-born musicians. Indeed, up to this day, Zimmermann (born 1965) continues to be in almost uninterrupted demand at some of the major concert venues around the world. As American music critic David Mermeistein has written: 'What this artist lacks in flash, he more than makes up for in subtle, learned, compelling musicianship'.

Zimmermann enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with Warner Classics' predecessor, EMI Classics, and the recordings in this thirty-CD box were made between 1984, when he was just nineteen years old, and 2001. It contains all the recordings he made over that period for EMI, and also the one for Teldec.

Listen — Sibelius: Allegro ma non tanto (Violin Concerto)
(0190296317880 CD21 track 3, 0:01-0:55) ℗ 2022 Parlophone Records Ltd :

Born in Duisburg, the son of professional musicians, Zimmermann always set his sights on becoming a violinist. He started playing the instrument at the age of five, and gave his first concert with an orchestra when aged ten. During his studies and development his great violin heroes were David Oistrakh, Arthur Grumiaux and Nathan Milstein - some trio, this. In Frank Peter's words: 'It's like the guy who wants to climb Mount Everest. The guides bring him up to a certain point, but for the rest of the journey he has to find his own way. That's the life and way of an artist.'

While still a teenager, Zimmermann was given major concert opportunities by Lorin Maazel and Daniel Barenboim, and he also cites Wolfgang Sawallisch as a conductor who furthered his early career. Zimmermann says that the first piece of music he fell in love with was Schubert's Rosamunde Quartet; in his own words, 'For me chamber music is the crown of classical music'.

This set duly contains smaller-scale works to set beside the concertos. Since the age of twenty, Zimmermann has played a Stradivarius. Over the years he has been in possession of four such legendary instruments.

Listen — Eugène Ysaÿe: Rêve d'enfant
(0190296317880 CD24 track 18, 0:00-0:52) ℗ 2022 Parlophone Records Ltd :

A succession of reviews from the New York Times, dating from 1986 to 2001, articulate the nature, quality and consistency of Zimmermann's playing over the period concurrent with these recordings: '... technically impeccable. Indeed, there was something awe-inspiring about the unhurried calm with which Zimmermann's left hand zeroed in on the notes in the highest positions, and there was a musical presence not to be denied in his measured approach' (1986). 'Mr Zimmermann's style is based on an absolutely clean technique and a true ability to let music unfold and develop at a natural pace' (1989). 'Mr Zimmermann brought technical wizardry, rich tone and romantic flair to his performance. More striking were his rhythmic integrity and rhetorical clarity' (1996 in Bruch's Violin Concerto No 1). 'Mr Zimmermann's playing is consistently fine and clean-cut. The bounce of his line made the Beethoven finale a fresh delight, and at times a rhythmic connection, with a shift of emphasis, would carry the music from one section to another' (1999). '... pristine technique and a nice sense of balance between Romantic sentiment and Classical restraint' (2001 in Mozart's D major Violin Concerto).

This is a monumental treasure chest that embraces the musical gifts of no less than twenty-seven composers, sixteen artists, twelve orchestras and ensembles and twelve conductors all grouped together. Understandably, I could not go into details concerning this huge number of interpreters in their different roles. This will have to be done by the prospective buyer. But there is a wonderful informative booklet with this set which should prove very helpful.

Listen — Tchaikovsky: Allegro vivacissimo (Violin Concerto)
(0190296317880 CD9 track 3, 9:31-10:29) ℗ 2022 Parlophone Records Ltd :

Inspired music-making that should keep you company for months on end, and at a great price too. All yours to enjoy.

Copyright © 24 September 2022 Gerald Fenech,
Gzira, Malta






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