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Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, March 2015

RODE, P.: Violin Concertos Nos. 1, 5 and 9 (Eichhorn, Jena Philharmonic, Pasquet) 8.572755
RODE, P.: Violin Concertos Nos. 3, 4 and 6 (Eichhorn, Jena Philharmonic, Pasquet) 8.570767
RODE, P.: Violin Concertos Nos. 7, 10, 13 (Eichhorn, SWR Kaiserslautern Orchestra, Pasquet) 8.570469

For many these releases will be their first introduction to German violinist Friedemann Eichhorn. And none too soon as his magnificent playing shows he’s worthy of much wider recognition as one of today’s finest up-and-coming artists. An incredible virtuoso, he only uses his prodigious technique in service to the music.

That along with the stunning support provided by Uruguayan-born, German-trained conductor Nicolás Pasquet should give these forgotten concerti a new lease on life. Maestro Pasquet gets superb performances from the Kaiserlautern Southwest German Radio (SWR) and Jena Philharmonic Orchestras. © 2015 Classical Lost and Found Read complete review

Michael Barone
National Public Radio, December 2009

Pierre Rode, one of the foremost violinists of his time (for whom Beethoven  composed his Sonata, Op. 96), wrote the book on violin technique for the Paris Conservatoire. His studies are still practiced by aspiring virtuosos, and though championed by Wieniawski (and several by Paganini!), Rode’s 13 excellent concertos now are almost totally forgotten. Friedemann Eichhorn’s exceptional and compelling artistry rescues three of them from undeserved oblivion. Yes, perhaps it’s Beethoven-lite, but sometimes that’s not a bad thing. The dance-inspired finales are particularly memorable. Enjoy the discovery.

Robert Maxham
Fanfare, July 2009

…Paganini consented to play this Seventh Concerto; Spohr certainly admired and played it, and Wieniawski provided a cadenza, so those who sneer today might well take a second look…Friedemann Eichhorn’s…plays with a consistently attractive tone (silvery in the upper registers and resonant in the lower ones) coupled with a crispness of articulation (plenty of bite, for example, in Rode’s staccato passages) that makes the many brilliant passages reflect the light in gem-like tonal highlights.

Strongly recommended.

Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, July 2009

No one who listens to these Rode concertos will be disappointed by a lack of virtuoso fireworks. There’s enough double-stopping, rapid runs, and bowing tricks to satisfy even the most insatiable appetites for hire-wire circus acts. But there is also a depth and breadth to Rode’s muse, and a sophisticated air to his melodic invention that elicits a strong emotional response and strikes a genuine responsive chord. Simply put, there is some exquisitely beautiful music here. And Friedemann Eichhorn, who is new to me, plays with a sweetness of tone and expressiveness of phrasing that grace Rode’s exceptional lyricism with the delicacy of a caress, all the while skirting the technical minefields as if they didn’t exist. Nowhere does Eichhorn’s tone turn coarse or his bowing become labored, even in the most fiendishly difficult passages. This is violin-playing of a caliber to match this extraordinary music. In a single stroke, Eichhorn and Naxos have done for Rode (and for us) what should have been done long ago. It’s my fervent hope that they will see fit to give us Rode’s remaining 10 concertos.

No fancier of the violin should be without this disc. It may even show up on my 2009 Want List.

Steven J Haller
American Record Guide, May 2009

It is not often appreciated by modern concertgoers that at the same time Beethoven, Mozart, and others dominated the musical scene in Vienna, an entirely separate group of composers in Paris was creating an impressive repertory for the violin that not only flourished apart from their Viennese contemporaries but also influenced them in many ways…Paganini valued Rode’s Concerto No. 7 so highly that it was one of the very few pieces he played by someone other than himself. Like No. 10, the opening movement is marked Moderato—not that there’s anything remotely moderate about these bracing performances— and the orchestra—far from vestigial—actually has a fair amount on their plates, beginning with a substantial opening statement, perhaps most of all in 13—his last concerto—that in all respects stands as the culmination of Rode’s art. The central Adagio in each case is a pure cantilena, in 13 rising to Mozartean heights of beauty. 7 closes out with a cheeky romp, 10 with a dazzling Tempo di polacca that might daunt even Paganini—in turn unleashing some truly phenomenal fiddling from young Master Eichhorn—while the horns resound with great gusto in the effervescent Allegretto that caps 13. The notes suggest 10 opens with a “martial orchestral statement”, but it’s far more than that; I hear the galloping of the horses, the thunder of the cannon in the timpani. Was Rode saluting the Tsar’s troops? Eichhorn may not make a warm, plummy sound, but his bright, clear tone seems tailor made for this music, and his free-wheeling, exuberant attack makes the most florid passagework seem like child’s play. In the Adagio sections he spins out a sweetly lyrical line that a soprano at the Opera might envy. The Kaiserslautern orchestra under Nicolas Pasquet’s urgent leadership clearly relishes the sturdy meat-and-potatoes scoring and gives Eichhorn their full support. The studio is resonant—Eichhorn sounds like he’s in an echo chamber—yet detail easily comes through. This is a splendid introduction to the music of Pierre Rode, and I certainly hope the rumor that Eichhorn will be recording all of Rode’s violin concertos for Naxos is true. (According to their website, concertos of Pierre Baillot are also on their agenda.)

Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb International, April 2009

The Seventh Concerto opens with requisite Sturm und Drang, powerful and terse, before ushering in the soloist for copious amounts of dashing passagework and subsequent dolce legato phrasing. Rode ensures deft variation of material and if he doesn’t quite banish feelings of repetition he knows when to unleash arresting orchestral fusillades. Those stirring orchestral chords that open the Adagio are certainly granitic but it’s plain that the composer’s heart is not in it and a song without words unfolds untroubled, refined. The finale is a frolicsome finger-twister, saucily spun, to which Eichhorn responds with aplomb.
The Tenth Concerto dates from c.1804–08. Again this has a tense, rather troubled orchestral introduction—a Rode speciality that ultimately hints at depths the works can’t quite sustain—with trumpets strikingly to the fore. The violin’s opening panache-driven statements soon give way to the similar kind of dolce lines that animate so much of Rode’s virtuoso writing. Warmth and elegant charm predominate before the portentous start of the slow movement appears and itself gives way quickly to a wandering lyric line. Rode was fond of giving the soloist a cadential passage at the end of the slow movement and leading straight into the finale as he does here to good effect. The Polacca is playful, virtuosic, with the orchestra offering plausible supportive tapestries.

By the time of the final concerto we find some more classical drama in the orchestral introduction. It’s more of the same really for the soloist along with strong sinewy orchestral responses in the tuttis. As ever Rode manages seemingly effortless lyric lines for the soloist in the slow movement and he serves up a vibrant finale complete with hunting horn motifs.

The performances are deftly accomplished; no period style bow grip or set up here but no obviously distracting gestures either. The trouble with Rode’s concertos in the end is the persistence with which he infuses ornaments into the lyric writing, which emerges sounding more decorative than it might—or, arguably, should. Still, that’s no excuse for ignoring for so long these exemplary examples of the French Classical School; a fine case is made for them in these performances.

Kevin Sutton
MusicWeb International, March 2009

To modern ears, this is classical music through and through. Structured and somewhat formulaic, one might mistake it for the work of a lesser Beethoven upon first hearing. These concertos were, however, somewhat groundbreaking in their time, with their emphasis upon the soloist as the hero. The solo parts are indeed more prominent than what Mozart allowed in his concertos, and the music is by turns dramatic, lyrical and jaunty. Well crafted, concise and to the point, they provide the needed aural pleasure to pronounce them good, but they will hardly change the world.

Mr. Eichhorn plays with a sweet and airy tone, well suited for the light-heartedness of the music, even when it is cast in the minor mode. There is ample technical display to support Rode’s reputation as a virtuoso, and Eichhorn carries off florid passages with ease. The Kaiserlautern Orchestra is a fine ensemble, playing with a taut rhythmic drive and a fine sense of balance and intonation. Maestro Pasquet never lets his players overwhelm the soloist and he has chosen brisk but never breathless tempi.

It would be nice to see some of these works revived in the student repertoire perhaps or in the professional realm as matinee material. They are pleasant excursions, and worthy of a listen or two, especially at the Naxos bargain price!

Lance G. Hill
The Classical Music Guide Forums, March 2009

If you read any books about Beethoven, Pierre Rode’s name invariably comes up. Apparently, the man was very well respected during his lifetime. When you listen to the opening of this disc of the Violin Concerto No. 7 in A Minor, you will, like me, probably scratch your head in wonderment just why this music has been (unjustly) neglected. This is precisely the kind of music that Heifetz or Milstein could have and probably should have included in their repertoire right alongside the works of Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Brahms. Yes, it’s that good, and gives the violin a wonderful opportunity to show its stuff. This Seventh Violin Concerto was, apparently, very popular in its day, and with good reason. It’s got abundant melody, virtuosity, and the kind of writing that would illustrate the best qualities of a violinist with singing lines and deeply expressive tonality.

What is most noticeable in all the concertos is the outstanding and rich orchestration giving the violin a wonderful blanket of sound to overlay the accompaniment. Recorded in January and February 2007 in Germany, Friedemann Eichhorn (b. 1971) has an impressive background having studied in Mannheim with Valery Gradow, Alberto Lysy in Switzerland, and with Margaret Purdee at the Juilliard School in New York. Among the musicians he has performed with include Yehudi Menuhin, Igor Oistrakh, Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet, Saschko Gawriloff. Eichhorn was appointed one of the youngest professors of violin at the Liszt School in Weimar in 2002. He has also taught at the Mozarteum in Salzburg and won many awards and prizes, is an editor for Schott, and contributes articles to publications.

The SWR Radio Orchestra-Kaiserslautern, conducted by Nicolás Pasquet (b. 1958) provides oustanding workmanship throughout the three concertos. On occasion, one observes some extraneous sounds such as slight pounding or the microphones picking up floor sounds. Otherwise, the sound is rich and full.

Hearing these three violin concertos only serves to make us want to hear the others.

Heartily recommended! And a huge thanks to Naxos for their outstanding and enterprising work for bringing us this forgotten music.

Kevin Sutton
The Tenor Diaries, February 2009

Mr. Eichhorn plays with a sweet and airy tone, well suited for the light-heartedness of the music, even when it is cast in the minor mode. There is ample technical display to support Rode’s reputation as a virtuoso, and Eichhorn carries off florid passages with ease. The Kaiserlautern Orchestra is a fine ensemble, playing with a taut rhythmic drive and a fine sense of balance and intonation. Maestro Pasquet never lets his players overwhelm the soloist and he has chosen brisk but never breathless tempi. It would be nice to see some of these works revived into the student repertoire perhaps or in the professional realm as matinee material. They are pleasant excursions, and worthy of a listen or two, especially at the Naxos bargain price!

David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2009

Today’s aspiring young violinists will have ploughed dutifully through the instructional exercises of Pierre Rode, but few will have realised that he wrote thirteen virtuoso concertos of instant charm. Born in Bordeaux in 1774, he became the favourite pupil of Giovanni Viotti, the greatest violinist of his generation. From therein his career as a touring virtuoso was of mixed fortunes, adored by many but heavily criticised by others. It may well have been the negative comments that brought about his retirement and return to Bordeaux at the age of forty-seven, dying there nine years later. He had grown up  when music in France was gripped in the adoration of opera, his concertos containing the element of song yet with the titillation of outrageous demonstrations of virtuosity. The Seventh was to live on in the repertoire of great violinists through the 19th century, but all others were soon to fade into obscurity. Today’s young superstars do not know what they are missing, the concertos having those catchy melodies that make Paganini’s concertos popular, and offer an effective show of phenomenal dexterity. True they don’t indulge in the violin’s tricks of the trade, but they offer more music of value than you find in most other showpiece concertos. Of course you have to find a violinist of Friedmann Eichhorn’s remarkable left-hand dexterity when passages are of finger-knotting complexity, and also one that can communicate the joy of such music. The orchestral parts are more substantial than the background music you usually find in such concertos, the German orchestra, under Nicolas Pasquet, both warm toned and suitably pliant. The radio engineers provide excellent sound, and I would beg Naxos to complete a Rode cycle with these forces. Absolutely superb.

Giv Cornfield
The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics, February 2009

Rode was a French violin virtuoso active during the early 19th century. Every violin student is familiar with his exercises, yet his 13 violin concertos remained hidden from public hearing until now. Violinist Eichhorn plays stylishly and perfectly in tune, even if the music itself sounds unoriginal and derivative, yet offering plenty of scope for pyrotechnics. There is little depth of emotion in these works, designed to mainly show off the performer’s virtuosity.

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