David Garrett - Virtuoso
Review by Jack Foley
HE’S been dubbed the David Beckham of the violin and, to be fair, the cover shots do little to suggest that violin sensation David Garrett is unhappy with that tag. But while Beckham dazzles with his feet, Garrett is all about his fingers and Virtuoso is a masterclass in classical music, made appeal-worthy to the masses.
Part maverick, part genius, total virtuoso, the 25-year-old Garrett has released the LP to reflect the various musical tastes that have come to inspire him, whether its through his own interpretations of popular classics such as Carmen and Paganini, or classic film themes, including Morricone’s La Califfa ot Bernstein’s Somewhere.
No matter what he’s playing, though, Garrett excels and the best thing that can be said about the album is that it’s fun and capable of a much wider appeal than just fans of classical music.
Take his brilliant interpretation of Carmen Fantaisie, with Paco Pena, that’s a firm album highlight; one that’s delivered with plenty of South American passion, as well as a vibrancy and enthusiasm that’s utterly addictive.
Likewise, the fun, frivolous Csardas – Gypsy Dance, which begins slow, only to set a lovely pace that’s evocative of Hungarian travellers dancing over camp-fires.
Duelling Banjos, meanwhile, is an absolute romp – a virtuoso game of musical one upmanship between a flamenco influenced acoustic guitar and Garrett’s own dazzling violin. Early on, it’s particularly playful and prone to delivering much delight, before going utterly nuts for the frenzied, almost moonshine middle section.
It’s moments like these that ensure the album catches you off guard and fall for its charms, no matter how sceptical you may have been in the first place.
But as energetic and lively as Virtuoso can be, there’s also moments of serene beauty, in which Garrett’s violin positively weeps. Album opener La Califfa, from Morricone, is both cinematic and breathtakingly beautiful, while his version of Pachelbel’s Canon is a virtual masterclass.
Paganini Rhapsody will, of course, be familiar to anyone who watches The South Bank Show – and delights for exactly that reason. While Somewhere is terrific for lazy, hazy Sunday afternoon listening and an exquisite interpretation of the West Side Story classic.
And let’s not forget Garrett’s thrilling delivery of The Flight of The Bumble Bee which is as brilliant in CD form as it’s said to be live.
There are moments, late on, when the album loses momentum – his version of You Raise me Up felt a little overwrought to this particular listener – while some of his own compositions, such as Eliza’s Song and Toccate, take a little more getting used to. But they continue to underline just how talented the guy is.
And he’s been surprising people since before he was four-years-old, when his father first gave him a violin because he was having a tantrum caused by the fact that his older brother had a violin teacher. Without any lessons, the toddler picked it up and began playing.
Fast forward just four years and David was already one of the foremost violinists in the world working with the most celebrated teachers and performing solos with legendary orchestras and conductors.
With his natural talent, the input of the finest music teachers in the world and a spirit unusual in the sometimes fusty world of classical music, David has never looked back and has been able to command audiences with Popes, princes and presidents (the German President saw David when he was just 11 and was so impressed he actually set about securing him a priceless 1718 Stradivarius: “I used to leave violins on buses and in hotel rooms when I was younger, but not this one”)…
If you haven’t had chance to hear him already, then Virtuoso offers the perfect place to start.
Downloack picks: La Califfa, Carmen Fantasie, Csardas – Gypsy Dance, Duelling Banjos, Somewhere (West Side Story), The Flight Of The Bumble Bee, Pachelbel’s Canon, Paganini Rhapsody