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Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Violin Concerto in D major Op. 77 (1879) [38:02]
Joseph JOACHIM (1831-1907)
Violin Concerto No. 2 in D minor Op. 11 In the Hungarian Style (1860) [40:14]
Christian Tetzlaff (violin)
Danish National Symphony Orchestra/Thomas Dausgaard
rec. Danish Radio Concert Hall, Copenhagen, November, December 2006 (Brahms) and March 2007 (Joachim)
VIRGIN CLASSICS 5021092 [78:25]
Experience Classicsonline

This coupling is certainly not unique. Rachel Barton conjoined them in her Cedille disc (CDR90000068). Of other performances we can – regrettably – overlook the Vox recording made by Aaron Rosand, fine though it is on its own terms, because some snipping has been done, as was sometimes the case with Rosand’s ventures into then unchartered concerto waters.

Christian Tetzlaff’s performances are very different from Pine’s though he shares something of her aversion to grandiloquence in the Brahms. Rather like the recent Capuçon brothers recording of the Double Concerto Tetzlaff’s Brahms is mellifluous, warmly moulded and essentially conciliatory in tone. Solo and orchestral passages taper rather than seek aggressive space. This is, then, a broadly integrationist approach, essentially lyric. It values fining down of tone, meticulous weighting of the solo line with the orchestral fabric (some outstanding work on that score) and a rather chamber sized sense of projection. Tetzlaff certainly rouses himself in his approach to the first movement cadenza, dispatched finely. The central movement is similarly selfless and promotes articulate wind lines that curl and coil with great finesse. The giocoso is stressed in the finale, which goes pretty well, the aural balances once more strongly attended to and the Hungarian melos suitably brought to the fore.

I much prefer the tempo decisions Tetzlaff and Dausgaard make to those of Pine and Kalmar on Cedille – the latter very slow – but I still feel that, as with the Capuçon brothers and the Double, this Tetzlaff is too partial a view of the work, a little too reined in.

Tetzlaff is considerably faster than Pine in the Joachim Concerto as well, to its advantage I think. This is a work that long fell into oblivion after initial promise. Composed between 1857 and 1860 it reflects to some extent the influence of Mendelssohn though its strongly rhapsodic profile is intriguing and successful. The extensive orchestral introduction has rather a formidable cut to it, though Joachim spices his score with vigorous hunting horn motifs and a fair amount of paprika – all very well integrated into the writing without become a fetish in themselves.  Joachim’s view of the gypsy lassu is perhaps a little cosmopolitan here but the slow movement has a reflective intimacy that is genuinely attractive. The finale is exciting, based on the Verbunkos dance and played with considerable dash by Tetzlaff and the Danish forces.

It’s something of a luxury to have this programme available in two such different a set of performances. My choice goes to Tetzlaff despite some reservations concerning the tenor of his Brahms.

Jonathan Woolf



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