Axel Strauss: Violin
The first German artist to ever win the international Naumburg Violin Award in New York, Axel Strauss made his American debut at the Library of Congress in Washington DC and his New York debut at Alice Tully Hall in 1998. Since then he has given recitals in major North American cities, including Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles and San Francisco. In 2007 he was the violinist in the world premiere of Two Awakenings and a Double Lullaby, written for him by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis.
Axel Strauss has performed as soloist with orchestras in Budapest, Hamburg, New York, Seoul, Shanghai, Bucharest, San Francisco and Cincinnati, among others, and has toured widely throughout the world as a recitalist and chamber musician. He has also served as guest concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic and the Montreal Symphony. Mr. Strauss also frequently performs at various music festivals in the US. Festival visits abroad have taken him to Germany, India, Korea and Japan. His chamber music partners have included Menahem Pressler, Kim Kashkashian, Joel Krosnick, Robert Mann and Bernhard Greenhouse.
Since his European debut in Hamburg in 1988, Axel Strauss has been heard on concert stages throughout Europe. He has given concerts in Moscow, Vilnius, Berlin, Bremen, Leipzig and Nuremberg. Concert tours have taken him to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Romania. He has also toured South America and performed in Japan with the Philharmonic Violins Berlin.
At the age of seventeen he won the silver medal at the Enescu Competition in Romania and has been recognized with many other awards, including top prizes in the Bach, Wieniawski and Kocian competitions. Mr. Strauss studied at the Music Academies of Lübeck and Rostock with Petru Munteanu. In 1996 he began working with the late Dorothy DeLay at The Juilliard School and became her teaching assistant in 1998. He has also worked with such artists as Itzhak Perlman, Felix Galimir, and Ruggiero Ricci, and at the Marlboro Music Festival with Richard Goode, Mitsuko Uchida and Andras Schiff. Mr. Strauss has been residing in the United States since 1996.
In 2013, Axel Strauss was appointed Professor of Violin at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University in Montreal. Prior to that he served as Professor of Violin at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Axel Strauss performs seven classic pieces in this hour-long STEINWAY & SONS program, including works by Mozart, Brahms, and Bach. Also presented here is an illuminating interview with both Strauss and Carl Cranmer, who accompanies him here.
Brahms Violin Concerto Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra Rico Saccani, Conductor Format CD, Release Date 2005
Zoltan Kodaly: Duet for Violin & Cello Op.7 With Guido Schiefen, Cello Format CD, Release Date 2006 Click HERE to buy
1. Allegro serioso, non troppo
3. Maestoso e largamente, ma non troppo lento – Presto
Brahms Sonatas No.1 F Minor, Op.120 No.2 Eb Major, Op.120 With Peter von Wienhardt, Piano Format CD, Release Date 1998 Click HERE to buy (currently only available in Germany)
RODE, P.: 24 Caprices for Solo Violin Axel Strauss, Violin Click HERE to buy
On this disc, Axel Strauss revels in the virtuosic and expressive opportunities offered by Pierre Rode’s 24 Caprices, which preceded those of Paganini by several years.
HERE to buy
Rodolphe Kreutzer’s final three violin concertos are among his greatest achievements as a composer. While handling a Beethovenian orchestra with a craftsman’s sure touch, it is the purity and depth of tone, energetic fire and complete technical mastery required of the soloist that set these works among the most perfect examples of the French violin concerto.
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Avoiding the showmanship and outward virtuosity often associated with brilliant composer-performers, George Enescu’s Second Violin Sonata marked his true emergence as a composer. Violinist Carl Flesch referred to it as one of the most significant in the history of the genre. The Impromptu concertant is amongst the most raptly expressive of violin ‘test’ pieces, and the Sonata ‘Torso’ paved the way towards the harmonic expansion of Enescu’s later work. The most renowned of his works for violin and piano, the Third Violin Sonata explores the essence of Romanian folk-music in an outpouring of sustained emotional power.
The Cincinnati Enquirer
“Its uplifting, flourishing string parts were a stark contrast to what followed – Robert Schumann’s dark Violin Concerto in D minor, performed by guest violinist Alex Strauss. Schumann composed the concerto in the later part of his life, as he struggled with mental illness (and suicide attempts). Unlike his earlier, more docile works, this concerto is moody and fiery. There is a restlessness to the first movement that Mr. Strauss captured beautifully. The young German violinist’s interpretation was not only an awesome display of technical mastery but a lesson on just how far musical sensitivity can take a piece. Clearly – in this case – a long way.”
– Nicole Hamilton, concert review “Orchestra Exhibits Variety”, Jan 7, 2002
San Francisco Classical Voice
“It was fun to hear Strauss and Fonteneau thrust and parry like Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone in the more swashbuckling passages, but each performer gets a moment in the spotlight and even the accompanimental figures require a sophisticated command of the bow. Strauss is a phenomenal player, with an imaginative sense of color, texture and timing, and the students seemed to have no difficulty following his lead.”
– John Lutterman, recital review “Shared Spotlight”, Feb 1, 2004
“The concluding Perpetuum Mobile was appropriately dazzling and especially provided a showcase for Strauss’s abilities. He plays with a full, attractive sound, and makes every note sting. He also has a deep sensitivity for the feeling of the music he’s playing. Even in this horserace of a movement, he modulated its mood, from intense to light to lyrical.”
– Benjamin Frandzel, recital review “Masterly Duo”, Feb 6, 2004
“Strauss’s reading of the piece was remarkably flexible, drawing attention to layers of detail through tempo modification and dynamics… His performance had an air of refreshing spontaneity that made it seem that the violinist was exploring and discovering the piece anew rather than delivering a pre-packaged interpretation of a great masterwork.”
– Alexander Kahn, symphony review “Highs and Lows”, Nov 13, 2005
“Strauss did likewise in the concerto, and his noble command of the violin brings out still other kinds of operatic power. He performs as a virtuoso and a teacher. As a virtuoso, he played with a rich, warm tone straight from the heart, with flawless intonation and phrasing and with a fluent nobility of line that sustained itself from first to last.”
“The challenge of Beethoven’s solo part lies in its total exposure. Unlike, Tchaikovsky concerto, Beethoven’s gives the soloist no relief – no large orchestral backup in which to hide. But Strauss worked this exposure to the greatest advantage, letting every note speak without the slightest sacrifice of fluency, clarity, warmth or nuance of phrase. He plays like Nathan Millstein.”
“As a teacher, Strauss was perhaps even more remarkable, especially in the concerto’s slow movement – a tissue of exchanges between the violin and the woodwinds, playing variously in solo, or twos or threes. With Hahm at his side and with his self-effacing tact, Strauss kept the conversations in nearly perfect accord. Hearing this was not without its slightly comic side. There were moments when we might have been watching a Formula One race car threading its way in slow motion through traffic on an autobahn.”
– Richard Rand, concert review “TSO, Shinik Hahm Offer Electrifying Beethoven”, Feb 25, 2004
“The young German violinist’s interpretation was not only an awesome display of technical mastery but a lesson on just how far musical sensitivity can take a piece. ”
“Strauss is a phenomenal player, with an imaginative sense of color, texture and timing.”
“He plays with a full, attractive sound, and makes every note sting. He also has a deep sensitivity for the feeling of the music he’s playing. ”
“His performance had an air of refreshing spontaneity that made it seem that the violinist was exploring and discovering the piece anew rather than delivering a pre-packaged interpretation of a great masterwork.”
“As a virtuoso, he played with a rich, warm tone straight from the heart, with flawless intonation and phrasing and with a fluent nobility of line that sustained itself from first to last.”
Leider ohne Worte
Axel Strauss, Violin
Cord Garben, Piano
2. Venezianisches Gondellied: Allegretto tranquillo (fis-moll, op. 30. No. 6)
3. Agitato e con fuoco (h-moll, op. 30. No. 4)
The Lark Ascending
R. Vaughan Williams
with Hamburg Symphony (Pedro Halffter, Conductor)