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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Gerhard Taschner plays Beethoven
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Violin Sonata No. 9 Op. 47 Kreutzer (1802)
Violin Concerto in D Op. 61 (1806)
Gerhard Taschner (violin)
Walter Gieseking (piano)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Georg Solti
Recorded 1951 (Kreutzer) and 1952 (Concerto)
TAHRA 461 [74.53]


AVAILABILITY
www.tahra.com


Gerhard Taschner Ė A Genius. This is the line that greets one on opening Tahraís booklet note that has a most useful Taschner discography. Itís a bold claim to make of a composer let alone an instrumentalist Ė how many instrumentalists are geniuses and what does the word mean in the context? Letís forget the hyperbole and consider the aural evidence. Taschner plays the Kreutzer with Gieseking (his other pianistic partners include a raft of magnificent players Ė Edith Farnadi, Martin Krause, Hubert Giesen and his wife Gerda Nette) and the Concerto with Solti (who once recorded it with Mischa Elman and if you can follow Mischa Elman in Beethoven you can follow anyone anywhere).

My problem with the Kreutzer performance is one of conception and execution. The variations second movement is very indulged and the Presto finale a headlong rush. It makes no architectural sense to me at all and allied to my feelings of ambivalence about Taschnerís soloistic potential Iím afraid I found this a less than impressive traversal though Iím sure others will find its alternate languor and power affecting. Iíve never found Taschner a tonalist of refinement and whilst his steeliness might be thought pertinent for the concertante muscularity of the passagework of the first movement Ė and whilst much is well done Ė I find him overall decent but not at all outstanding. The sickly vibrato application in which he indulges at expressive moments is to my ears a sign of insufficient tonal and emotive resources and the one dimensionality of his playing problematical. The italicisation in the second movement is surely as much Giesekingís responsibility as Taschnerís; they make a meal of everything in the very worst German style. Giesekingís moments of stasis (which he doubtless equated with profundity) are as lamentable as Taschnerís inability properly to integrate expressive violinistic devices without them sounding artificial and applied from without. The finale, by contrast with the static preceding movement, is a meaningless dash.

The Concerto would provide pleasure in concert but Iím not sure how much life it has on disc. Thereís a weighty orchestral introduction from Solti, quick and well conceived slides from Taschner, his tone once more sounding rather too hard and resilient. I found he also lacked the kind of phrasal sensitivity that distinguishes a good player from a great one. Perhaps as a result Soltiís conducting sounds all too often strangely soft grained though he is sympathetic to Taschner in the Larghetto, well played but again hardly outstanding, even though the conductor can be heavy handed in the finale.

I canít share very much in the acclamation that greets Taschnerís discs but thatís beside the point. Far too many radio recordings have been lost, mislaid, damaged or destroyed and all too much evidence of performances lost for one not to be grateful that they now make an appearance in such well-presented form and in such excellent sound.

Jonathan Woolf

 



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