MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around

and more.. and still writing ...


Search MusicWeb Here


Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer

International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Salon Treasures from the Max Jaffa Library



Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Violin Concerto WoO 23(1853) [31:23]
Symphony No. 1 “Spring” Op. 38 (1841) [30:52]
Phantasy for Violin and Orchestra Op. 131 (1853) [15:02]
Thomas Zehetmair (violin, direction); Orchestre de Chambre de Paris
rec. February 2015, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris.
ECM RECORDS 2396 [77:18]

Thomas Zehetmair recorded Schumann’s Violin Concerto for Teldec back in the early 1990s, and this has long been a highly recommendable version. Comparing and contrasting this with the ECM recording throws up some interesting points, but Zehetmair’s own association with the work is worth noting: “The concerto has gripped me since I first encountered it. But back in the early 1980s there was only the Schünemann edition of the score available. As worthy as it was, it was nevertheless full of errors. So I meticulously studied the original manuscript in 1988 in the Berlin State Library, and recently contributed to the new Breitkopf ‘Urtext’ edition. Where the concerto was once considered a poor relative in Schumann’s oeuvre, today no one doubts that the work belongs to the greatest that has been written for violin and orchestra.”

The ECM recording throws up a few problems. The recording is rather on the dry side, which is a little unexpected from this label. This rather unforgiving aspect of the production is worth bearing in mind, but the main attraction is Zehetmair’s playing, which is freer and more impressive than in the older recording. There is little difference in terms of timings, the outer movements being a little more expansive, the central Langsam a tad tighter but still with plenty of warmth and depth of expression. Whether or not you agree that this is amongst the greatest of violin concertos it is certainly an attractive and very fine work and richly deserving of the excellent performance it gets here.

Schumann’s symphonies are well covered on record, and this is a decent enough version conducted by Thomas Zehetmair. Once again, the dry acoustic makes for an intimate listen rather than one to be relished in more typical circumstances and there seems to be a microphone placed in the timpani player’s top pocket, but the performance has plenty of dynamic contrast and excellent playing. For a chamber orchestra comparison I had another listen to Thomas Dausgaard on the BIS label (see review), which is also recorded in a fairly close perspective. Dausgaard’s first movement is faster and has more excitement that Zehetmair, but the latter is more prepared to give string warmth through vibrato, noticeable in the Larghetto. Listening over my usual 2nd mortgage headphones I found myself bothered more by the ECM recording as things progressed however, with perfect clarity from each orchestral section but plenty of imagination needed to make the sound blend as an orchestral unit. If you listen to the musical conversations going on in the Scherzo and Trio movement this can have its own entertainment value, but the glue sticking everything together seems to have dried just a little awkwardly.

The less often heard Phantasy was written with the great violinist Joseph Joachim in mind, and Thomas Zehetmair relishes the virtuoso nature of the soloist’s part, using Schumann’s original version rather than editions tinkered with by others. Zehetmair’s declamatory playing gives this ‘difficult’ music an almost operatic character, putting plenty of life and character into a performance that is arguably the most successful on this recording.

Schumann’s Violin Concerto is a fine work, but there is a case for the more upholstered sound of a full symphony orchestra doing the music more favours. Ilya Kaler with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra on Naxos is a good example, though perhaps a little too far in the other direction being set in the lively acoustic of a big empty space, the Lighthouse Concert Hall in Poole. Closer to ideal is Isabelle Faust with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra on Harmonia Mundi (see review), which to my mind is little short of revelatory; using period instruments, celebrating Schumann’s remarkable ‘wrong notes’ and creating worlds of heart-stopping drama missing from many other recordings. As for an introduction to the ‘Spring’ Symphony I would suggest a look at something like Wolfgang Sawallisch’s Dresden Staatskapelle recordings on EMI/Warner (see review) which have a justified classic status and enjoy the warm resonance of the Lukaskirche in Dresden.

Dominy Clements



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

July 2022

John Luther Adams Houses of the Wind
John Luther Adams
Houses of the Wind

Horneman Alladin
Horneman Alladin

Stojowski piano concertos
Piano Concertos 1 & 2

Vaughan Williams on Brass

Yi Lin Jiang - Dualis I

June 2022

Beethoven Sonatas 29, 32

Orchestral Works

String Quartets Vol 1