Christian Tetzlaff / Robin Ticciati

Beethoven, Sibelius: Violin Concertos

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It takes a good deal of confidence to record these two most familiar of all the Romantic violin concertos, especially if you have recorded them both before, as violinist Christian Tetzlaff has. Confidence is what Tetzlaff is all about here, and it gives him the wherewithal to create a genuinely original reading of the Beethoven Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61. His tempos are fast, but others have taken the concerto fast. He de-romanticizes Beethoven's big melodies: although there's no hint of historical performance here, the sparing use of vibrato is common enough these days, partly as a result of that influence. If you imagine a 20th century Beethoven violin concerto performance from the Eastern European-Israeli sphere, say that of Itzhak Perlman, you will find Tetzlaff at the opposite extreme. So far, so good, and you can take your pick among recordings according to whether you favor these tendencies. Where Tetzlaff demands attention is in his overall structuring of the concerto, which seems to unfold as a single set of grand gestures. At least, that is, up to the cadenzas, which are adapted from the ones Beethoven wrote for the alternative piano version of the concerto. This may seem a stretch, but tune in to Tetzlaff's mood, and you'll find that the music has built up enough momentum to support these unusual, irregular cadenzas. The Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin under Robin Ticciati keeps up well with Tetzlaff's interpretation and never drags, which in this case is a bit of a tall order. The Sibelius Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47, is a bit closer to the mainstream, although even here, Tetzlaff is taking pains to dissociate himself from the big Romantic tradition: sample the finale, where you may wish for something a bit more rousing in the main theme. Impressively bold, and well worth your time.

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