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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61 (1806) [45:31]
Sonata for Piano and Violin in A major, Op. 47 ('Kreutzer')*
Vadim Repin (violin)
Wiener Philharmoniker/Riccardo Muti
rec. Musikverein, Grosser Saal, Vienna, February 2007. DDD
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 6596 [45:31]
* sonata not included on this promotional disc



This CD is a promotional copy of a yet-to-be-released recording (the release dates are October 15 in the UK and September 29 in the US). It was accompanied by a DVD of violinist Vadim Repin and conductor Riccardo Muti discussing the concerto. We also get a few excerpts of the performance. The DVD lasts under seven minutes and serves only as an advertisement for the CD. The CD when released will also contain a performance of Beethoven’s Sonata for Piano and Violin in A major, Op. 47, the “Kreutzer Sonata” with Martha Argerich and Repin. It is listed in the glossy booklet that accompanied the CD, but is not on the CD itself. This is a pity, for it might sway one whether or not to buy since there are so many recordings of the concerto available. I know of no other that also contains Beethoven’s most popular violin and piano sonata.
 
The performance of the concerto itself is wonderful, but no more or less than many others. It is a big, traditional account; there is nothing revisionist about it. Repin has a beautiful tone and technique to burn. Muti and his fabulous Vienna Philharmonic are with him all the way. The tuttis are powerful, but the quieter moments are especially memorable. The winds in particular are outstanding throughout the performance. Tempos seem normal, although the overall timing of 45 and one-half minutes is one of the longer performances on disc. Menuhin/Furtwängler, for example, finish the work in 44 minutes, while Heifetz/Munch set the speed record of just under 38. A minute of the additional timing is due to a longer cadenza at the end of the finale than some others. It is attributed to Fritz Kreisler, as is the usual one in the first movement. The recorded sound is superb with a very good balance between soloist and orchestra, allowing orchestral detail to be heard.
 
As I said, if the coupling is as good, this account of the Beethoven Violin Concerto would be hard to beat. However, I do not plan to throw out my favorite recording of the past, Arthur Grumiaux’s with the New Philharmonia conducted by Alceo Galliera (Philips 426 064-2). Grumiaux made a later recording with Sir Colin Davis that has also worn its years well. He presents a more classical view than Repin/Muti, Perlman/Giulini or especially Vengerov/Rostropovich. For something altogether more bracing, owing a good deal to period performance practice, I can recommend the recent recording by Christian Tetzlaff and David Zinman/Tonhalle (Arte Nova 82876 76994 2) with the cadenzas Beethoven provided for the piano version of his concerto. For a more traditional interpretation of this violin concerto masterpiece, and one extremely well played and recorded, then, this new Repin/Muti is highly recommended. I look forward to hearing Repin and Argerich in the sonata.
 
Leslie Wright
 



 


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