SCHUMANN Violin Concertos Wo023; Op 129. Fantasie Op 131
Schumann’s Cello Concerto, Op 129, is enjoying something of a vogue among violinists at present. Schumann made the arrangement, presumably for Joseph Joachim, so it has authentic provenance. I reviewed Philippe Graffin’s recording in the composer’s anniversary year and there’s another recording by Lena Neudauer (Hänssler Classic, A/10) that I haven’t yet been able to hear. Ulf Wallin takes a whole two minutes longer than Graffin and I suspect he investigates the mysteries of the opening ‘movement’ more deeply. His tone is sweeter and more evenly produced, too.
Turning to the two echt pieces of violin concertante music, the BIS disc comes up against competition from across the Baltic Sea, as Ondine coincidentally bring out a recording of Christian Tetzlaff in the D minor Violin Concerto and the C major Fantasie (see page 56). In both cases Tetzlaff is three or four minutes faster than Wallin; Wallin is more ruminative where opportunity arises, while Tetzlaff is unfazed by the fearsome passagework in the Fantasie. Compare the two violinists’ cadenzas: where Tetzlaff nonchalantly dashes off its finger-twisting difficulties, Wallin is audibly more careful. In the Violin Concerto, both violinists present a fine case for this heinously neglected work (the ‘historical missing link’ between the Beethoven and Brahms concertos, according to Menuhin). Tetzlaff is a touch swifter in the polonaise finale but Frank Beermann and his Chemnitz band for Wallin make a better fist of characterising the Rhenish-like orchestration of the concerto’s accompaniment. Don’t hesitate over either recording of the concerto; the coupling may be your deciding factor, Tetzlaff replacing Wallin’s Cello/Violin Concerto with the ubiquitous (and equally appropriate) Mendelssohn Concerto.