Hope’s Exceptional Musicianship Shines on ‘Escape To Paradise: The Hollywood Album ’
Daniel Hope • Escape To Paradise: The Hollywood Album • Deutsche Grammophon • US Release Date: September 2, 2014
On his latest album, Escape to Paradise: The Hollywood Album, versatile and accomplished British violinist Daniel Hope delivers nothing short of a musical tour de force. Has an album ever been more ‘Hollywood’ than this gorgeous affair finding the violinist flexing his musical muscles to the utmost? Jam-packed, clocking just shy of 77 minutes, Escape to Paradise is pleasant given its effortlessness, yet captivating given its range of contrasts oscillating between subtlety and overtness. Through and through, Hope’s musicianship is awe-inspiring as he covers notable classical repertoire as well as notable music excerpted from film and musical soundtracks.
There are no missteps to mention in regards to Escape to Paradise. The effort opens ‘rolling on all cylinders’ as Hope infuses ample romance on Miklós Rózsa’s “Love Theme” from the composer’s Academy-Award winning score to film Ben Hur. Here, Hope’s violin tone is chilling – particularly as he nails the climatic high ‘C’ with such prowess. Later, Hope goes on to revisit Rózsa with the Love Theme (from “El Cid”) as well as Prelude & Love Theme (from “Spellbound”).
Following the Love Theme (from Ben Hur), Hope proceeds impressively on Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35, performing the entire 25-minute, three-movement work. Comprising a third of Escape to Paradise, it is 25 minutes well invested. The late Academy-award winning composer would certainly smile hearing Hope’s inspired, genuine performance. Like Rózsa, Hope revisits Korngold later, performing the “Serenade” from Der Schneemann.
Go down the list of tracks and the respective, esteemed composers, and the magnificence of Escape to Paradise is truly easy to see. No ‘Hollywood’ album can thrive without Ennio Morricone, who appears via the truly impassioned “Love Theme” from Cinemo Paradiso). As the lead voice, Hope’s violin respectfully delivers the unforgettable melody giving it its just due. Then of course there’s John Williams’ Academy-award winning score for Schindler’s List, represented by its iconic theme.
Others whose works receive exceptional ‘bowing’ in the hands of Mr. Hope include Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Austrian composer Eric Zeisl and German composer Werner Heymann among others. Kurt Weill’s “Speak Low” from musical One Touch of Venus features the fine baritone of Max Raabe. Herman Hupfield’s “As Time Goes By” – as featured in the classic film Casablanca gets the nod to close Escape To Paradise – what a sound, prudent choice.
What more is there to say? Daniel Hope delivers big – gargantuan – on Escape to Paradise. If paradise was the picture Hope envisioned, he masterfully paints that picture. As Siskel and Ebert use to say, “Two Thumbs up!”
Favorites: Rózsa’s “Love Theme” from Ben Hur; Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35; Morricone’s “Love Theme” from Cinemo Paradiso and Hupfield’s “As Time Goes By” from Casablanca
Photo Credits: Daniel Hope, Escape To Paradise: The Hollywood Album © DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON