The Strad issue
A disappointing debut let down by over-enthusiasm
Chad Hoopes (violin) MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra/Kristjan Järvi
With a big, bright sound, an intense, narrow vibrato and heaps of (somewhat relentless) enthusiasm, 19-year-old US violinist Chad Hoopes fizzes with energy on his debut CD. There’s no doubting his superb technique nor his eagerness to show it off, but at times – especially in the Mendelssohn slow movement, for example – it’s all a bit too much, as though he’s so keen to propel himself into the next technical challenge that he forgets the eloquence that simplicity can bring. He’s nimble and witty in a sparkling finale, and he shapes the first movement’s melodies beautifully, but it all feels quite restless and impatient.
Likewise, in the Adams Concerto Hoopes seems to ignore the composer’s detailed dynamic markings in the first movement, transforming a subtle, ever-shifting texture into something merely samey. He’s more than a match, though, for the final-movement Toccare’s fearsome tangle of overlapping Minimalist rhythms, making it all sound terribly easy – and enormous fun.
What really lets the disc down, though, is the recorded sound: there’s a strange ambient hiss, and Hoopes is extremely forward in the mix, to the extent that he sometimes obscures the orchestral playing, strong though it is under an incisive Kristjan Järvi.