BRAHMS Double Concerto SCHUMANN Violin Concerto (Manze)

Record and Artist Details

Composer or Director: Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann

Genre:

Orchestral

Label: CPO

Media Format: CD or Download

Media Runtime: 63

Mastering:

DDD

Catalogue Number: CPO555 172-2

CPO555 172-2. BRAHMS Double Concerto SCHUMANN Violin Concerto (Manze)

Tracks:

Composition Artist Credit
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra Robert Schumann, Composer
Andrew Manze, Conductor
Antje Weithaas, Violin
North German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
Robert Schumann, Composer
Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra Johannes Brahms, Composer
Andrew Manze, Conductor
Antje Weithaas, Violin
Johannes Brahms, Composer
Maximilian Hornung, Cello
North German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra

I think it’s safe to say that Schumann’s Violin Concerto is no longer considered a drab, sub-par product of the composer’s mental decline. It does remain rife with interpretative pitfalls, however – from the knottiness of some of the solo writing to the concentrated character of the orchestral part. Antje Weithaas astutely keeps the elaborate figuration fluid and light (listen, say, to how she dances through the semiquavers at 2'56" in the first movement), although it’s her ability to illuminate the music’s dark corners (try at 7'57") that makes her performance among the most persuasive on disc. She captures the ruminative, almost obsessive quality of the central Langsam with playing that’s tenderly delicate yet also utterly unfussy. She even finds a wholly unexpected radiance in the polonaise-like finale, whose ungainly flourishes she dispatches with remarkably easy virtuosity.

There’s never been any doubt as to the greatness of Brahms’s Double Concerto, although it, too, is quite a difficult interpretative nut to crack. Here Weithaas is joined by the superb Maximilian Hornung, and the two play with real lyrical urgency. Brahms composed the work for the violinist Joseph Joachim and Robert Hausmann, cellist of Joachim’s quartet, and both parts demand a chamber-music-like intimacy as well as the projection of a soloistic personality. Weithaas and Hornung succeed on both counts. Listen at 8'25" in the opening Allegro to hear how tightly they interlock, for example, then turn to 2'55" in the Andante where Hornung suddenly takes an aggressive stance, providing a dramatic foil for the violinist’s gentle entreaties. I’m also impressed by how nimbly both players move through their often thickly written parts. Indeed, this account feels quite elegantly streamlined, in general, yet accomplishes this without undue speed. Julia Fischer and Daniel Müller-Schott (Pentatone, 8/07) are just a hair faster in the final Vivace non troppo, for instance, yet feel relatively rushed when heard alongside Weithaas and Hornung.

Andrew Manze elicits playing of remarkable clarity and rhythmic vitality from the NDR Radiophilharmonie – as crucial in the Brahms as it is in the Schumann – and the recorded balance between soloists and orchestra is close to ideal. Indeed, these interpretations are now my top recommendation for both concertos.

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