Julia Fischer Records Bach with St. Martin in the Fields
She's been playing the Bach concertos for 20 years
Julia Fischer's first album of Bach concertos is more akin to a warm, intimate reunion among old friends than a formal recording project, which was exactly what the esteemed violinist intended. "I have been playing the Bach concertos for almost 20 years, so obviously I've spent a lot of time with these pieces," the 25-year-old violinist says. "When I decided to record them, I didn't have a lot to learn or practice for them. I was already at a level with these pieces."
The album, Julia Fischer: Bach Concertos, pairs Fischer with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields orchestra, the respected Baroque ensemble with which the violinist has a close 10-year relationship. She hopes her decision to record the Bach concertos with the academy will highlight the repertoire's chamber-music element and honor the composer's original intent. "In Bach's times, it was played that way... that was something very important to me and why I chose the academy [to achieve] this real feeling of chamber music," she says. "With many of their players, I know them all by name. I look at the cello group and they know what I want to do."
The decision also speaks to her tendency to be cautious in choosing recording partners. " Daniel Müller-Schott is the only cellist I record with, because we've known each other for 10 years and he is one of my closest friends," she says.
Similarly, Yakov Kreizberg is the only conductor with whom she's made an album. "Recording is a very nerve-racking thing," she says. "You're together eight to ten hours [each day] and you don't enjoy every moment of it. With all these pressures, it's necessary to have people around you who can give you strength if you need it and who also understand if for a few minutes you are not in such a great mood."
Audiences shouldn't expect an album that proves the Bach concertos are recording-worthy. Instead, they should expect a recording that speaks to Fischer's close and modern-day relationship with the composer. "Of course, I'm interested in authentic interpretation and Baroque violins, et cetera, et cetera," she says. "I might also use those ideas and these interpretations, but my goal when I played the Bach concertos was that I not duplicate the exact interpretation that they might have received in 1729. First, I can't achieve it because we don't know [how they sounded].
"I'm playing for the people of the 21st century."