The Times

London debuts

On Monday, December 13, in the Wigmore Hall a young German violinist played a demanding programme, entirely unaccompanied, with such consummate ease and exceptional musicianship that he must be welcomed as a major international artist. His name is Ulf Hoelscher, and he plays a silkentoned Stradivarius like some latterday Orpheus - with a touch of the young Hercules, too.

He began with Bach, the second partita in D minor. One is so used to making allowances for scrawny sounds and wavery intonation in this music that a technically impeccable performance is in itself a revelation. But Mr. Hoelscher provided much more than that. He gave a marvellously proportioned interpretation; by turns improvisatory, lyrical, dancing, virtouso, he allocated to each phrase, each note, its right weight and tension within a rock-firm structure. Few violinists are capable of his achievement in the chaconne; having set a good pace, he stuck to it throughout the increasing

difficulties, and still gave us distillation of a great violinist's artistry with tone to fill the hall, filigree figuration, almost orchestral multiple stopping, and disembodied magic at the famous major third.

If in the Bach Mr. Hoelscher was on the side of the angels, in the next two pieces he had the devil in him. He attacked Bartok's Sonata with an electric vehemence to make one's hair stand on end. The fugue rasped rough-hewn and rugged, the "melodia" soared in the rhapsodic heights of pure sweetness, the presto took us on a Faustian infernal ride. And in Ysaye's 11th sonata, opus 27, we seemed to be listening in to Mephistopheles weaving a wild obsessive fantasy on the Dies Irae.

With Paganini's introduction and variations on a theme by G. Paisiello we came back to earth; perhaps Mr. Hoelscher gave us a straight-faced Teutonic tourist's view of Italian fun and smiles, but his showmanship and his ringing double-stopped harmonics would have had the composer in the chuckles. We must hear Mr. Hoelscher as often as we can.