Despite the vast quantity of his compositions and the popularity he enjoyed during his lifetime, none of the 19 violin concertos of Rodolphe Kreutzer are heard with any great frequency on the modern concert stage. In fact, Kreutzer's name is largely forgotten save for his pedagogical writings and etudes. The liner notes of the CPO album put forth the notion Kreutzer's concertos have not fared as well as those of Brahms, Beethoven, and the like because Kreutzer was not primarily a symphonic composer. Upon hearing the three concertos recorded here (15, 18, and 19), listeners may find some truth to this theory. Compared to the fiery virtuosity and engaging melodies of the solo part, the orchestral tuttis are rather banal. The SWR Rundunkorchester Kaiserslautern does an admirable job playing what's in the score, but there's little interest to be found in the orchestra. By contrast, violinist Laurent Albrecht Breuninger has a great deal to work with. Kreutzer knew his instrument well and pushed it to its technical and musical limits in these concertos. Breuninger's execution is all but flawless but he goes far beyond a mere technical reading. The flowing, melodious middle movements of each concerto are played with great care and emotional investment while the outer movements are met with Breuninger's exuberance and great forward momentum. Aficionados of rare violin concertos will certainly appreciate this addition to their library for the brilliant solo writing, though perhaps not for the orchestra's role.
Rodolphe Kreutzer: Violin Concertos Nos. 15, 18, 19 Review
by Mike D. Brownell