Search MusicWeb Here


selling Internationaly

aSymphonies 1 and 5 £9.00 post free

See also Symphonies 2 and 3

Vision of Judgement £9 post free

Newest Releases


Symphonies 1,2,4 £11.75 post free

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Editor-in-Chief: Rob Barnett

Some items
to consider

 

  • Menuhin lost tapes
  • Overtures SACD
  • Krommer Flute Quartets
  • Schubert Piano Trios 2CD
  • Menuhin lost tapes


Let me tell you


David Pia


Beethoven Rattle


Highly Impressive


Matthews Shostakovich
Sheer delight!


To live with


outstanding retrospective


A superb celebration


flair, insight, controversy


outstanding singing

 


Sheer bliss


best thing I’ve heard this year

this really exciting release

 

REVIEW
Plain text for smartphones & printers


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Altus
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Prima voce
Red Priest
Redcliffe
Retrospective
Saydisc
Sheva
Toccata Classics
Wyastone


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Editor in Chief
   
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945)
Violin Concerto No. 1 BB48a (1907) [21:26]
Violin Concerto No. 2 BB117 (1938) [35:22]
Thomas Zehetmair (violin)
Budapest Festival Orchestra/Iván Fischer
rec. July 1995, Italian Institute, Budapest, Hungary. DDD
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9436 [56:58]

There was a time when there was a dearth of digital recordings of the Bartók Violin Concerto, the one designated as No. 2, that is. It seemed like every other day a new recording of the Berg Concerto appeared, but never the Bartók. Now, if anything, the tables have been turned. In the past two years alone, we have seen new recordings of the Concerto No. 2 by Barnabás Kelemen, James Ehnes and Patricia Kopatchinskaja, all of which have been praised to the skies. I myself gave an enthusiastic welcome to the last of these on this website. Kelemen and Ehnes also recorded the Concerto No. 1, Ehnes’ on the same disc as his No. 2. I have not heard either of these recordings, but I have heard a good many earlier ones.

The disc under review is a reissue, originally on Berlin Classics, at budget price of a highly regarded account along with the much slighter Violin Concerto No. 1. When I reviewed the Kopatchinskaja disc, I was blown away by her exciting performance and warned the listener that hers might not be the first version to have, that something a little less volatile might be preferable. Chung/Rattle was the alternative I mentioned, but had I heard Zehetmair/Fischer I would have placed it even above the Chung. There is something very natural about their collaboration, with Fischer and the Budapest orchestra accompanying idiomatically. For one thing their tempos are closer to what the composer prescribed and the balance between violin and orchestra seems ideal, with detail in the orchestral part coming through better than in other performances I know. Zehetmair’s violin playing is more dramatic than Chung’s and he interprets the quarter-tone passage in the first movement as well as I have ever heard it done. This, in short, could easily become my reference recording for this particular work. I still prefer the original, brassy ending to the third movement without the solo violin and wish that it could have been included here on a separate track. There would have been plenty of room on the disc. It was not included in the original release either. Such an extra track appears on the Kelemen disc and much earlier on Pinchas Zukerman’s recording of the concerto with the Saint Louis Symphony. For those who are happy with the original version of the concerto there are fine accounts by Viktoria Mullova and Christian Tetzlaff.
 
The so-called Violin Concerto No. 1 that Bartók composed for violinist Stefi Geyer, with whom he was in love, was never finished. The two surviving movements were published only after the composer’s death, and the work was not performed until after Geyer’s death in 1958. Bartók adapted the first movement for his Two Portraits for violin and orchestra, a superior work with its much shorter second part. The second movement of the Concerto is longer than the first and rambles a bit. As a whole, the Concerto shows the influence of Liszt and Richard Strauss in its late-Romantic idiom, something that is typical of Bartók in this early period of his career. Zehetmair and Fischer bring out the warmth and lyricism in the work and play it as well as others I have heard.
 
Speaking of the competition, a new recording of the two concertos with Isabelle Faust and the Swedish Radio Symphony under Daniel Harding has just appeared and the early reviews have been very favorable. Furthermore, Faust and Harding perform the Second Concerto with its original, orchestral ending. This may very well be another strong competitor in the Bartók violin concerto sweepstakes.
 
In the meantime, Zehetmair/Fischer remains highly desirable, especially at its new budget price. Brilliant Classics do not stint on the notes either, with Steffen Schmidt’s detailed discussion of the works in (Mark Knoll’s English translation) providing an excellent background to the concertos.
 
Leslie Wright