MENDELSSOHN. SCHUMANN Violin Concertos
If I describe the Mendelssohn performance as meticulous, this is not to suggest a lack of spontaneity or awareness of the broader picture but rather a situation in which a determination to follow the composer’s instructions has led to an account of unusual depth and subtlety. Most violinists begin the arpeggio passage at the end of the first movement’s cadenza slowly and meditatively but Christian Tetzlaff observes the written ‘at tempo’, generating a powerful momentum by the time the orchestra re-enters. This fits in with a conception of the first movement that really achieves the composer’s Allegro molto appassionato. A particularly clear recording, with finely balanced orchestral textures and distinguished solo woodwind playing, helps make this one of the most impressive accounts of the work available. Tetzlaff may lack something of Josef Suk’s warmth, on his 1964 recording with An∂erl and the Czech Philharmonic, but he’s still a wonderfully expressive player, projecting a keen sense of the Andante’s long melodic lines.
Neither of the Schumann works quite achieves this level. The Fantasie’s more soulful qualities are somewhat underplayed, though Tetzlaff shows an admirable lightness of touch, and the wistful character of the opening is well caught. In the Concerto, I find the repeated accompanying triplets in the first movement too insistent and, unlike the writer of the booklet-note, I’d prefer the finale a little faster, as in Joshua Bell’s memorable recording with the Cleveland Orchestra and Dohnányi. However, this remains a fine performance: Tetzlaff takes us right to the intimate heart of the slow movement, after which the pure, luminous D major sonorities of the finale make a particularly stirring effect.