German violinist Christian Tetzlaff performs Ludwig van Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D major, Op.61, with the NHK Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the Estonian conductor Paavo Järvi. The concert was recorded at NHK Hall, Tokyo, Japan, on May 12, 2018.
Beethoven wrote his Violin Concerto in D major, Op.61 (1806), at the height of his so-called "second" period, one of the most fecund phases of his creativity. In the few years leading up to the Violin Concerto, Beethoven had produced such masterpieces as the Symphony No.3, Op.55 (1803), the Piano Concerto No.4, Op.58 (1805-1806), and two of his most important piano sonatas, No.21 in C major, Op.53 ("Waldstein", 1803-1804), and No.23 in F minor, Op.57 ("Appassionata", 1804-1805). The Violin Concerto represents a continuation – indeed, one of the crowning achievements – of Beethoven's exploration of the concerto, a form he would essay only once more, in the Piano Concerto No.5 (1809).
By the time of the Violin Concerto, Beethoven had employed the violin in concertante roles in a more limited context. Around the time of the first two symphonies, he produced two romances for violin and orchestra; a few years later, he used the violin as a member of the solo trio in the Triple Concerto (1803-1804). These works, despite their musical effectiveness, must still be regarded as studies and workings-out in relation to the Violin Concerto, which more clearly demonstrates Beethoven's mastery in marshalling the distinctive formal and dramatic forces of the concerto form.
Characteristic of Beethoven's music, the dramatic and structural implications of the concerto emerge at the outset, in a series of quiet timpani strokes that led some early detractors to dismiss the work as the "Kettledrum Concerto". Striking as it is, this fleeting, throbbing motive is more than just an attention-getter; indeed, it provides the very basis for the melodic and rhythmic material that is to follow. At over 25 minutes in length, the first movement is notable as one of the most extended in any of Beethoven's works, including the symphonies. Its breadth arises from Beethoven's adoption of the Classical ritornello form – here manifested in the extended tutti that precedes the entrance of the violin – and from the composer's expansive treatment of the melodic material throughout. The second movement takes a place among the most serene music Beethoven ever produced. Free from the dramatic unrest of the first movement, the second is marked by a tranquil, organic lyricism. Toward the end, an abrupt orchestral outburst leads into a cadenza, which in turn takes the work directly into the final movement. The genial Rondo, marked by a folk-like robustness and dancelike energy, makes some of the work's more virtuosic demands on the soloist.
At the prompting of Muzio Clementi – one of the greatest piano virtuosi of the day aside from Beethoven himself – Beethoven later made a surprisingly effective transcription of the Violin Concerto as the unnumbered Piano Concerto in D major, Op.61a, famously adding to the first movement an extended cadenza that employs tympani in addition to the piano.
Source: Michael Rodman (allmusic.com)
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
♪ Violin Concerto in D major, Op.61 (1806)
i. Allegro ma non troppo
iii. Rondo. Allegro
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
♪ Violin Partita No.3 in E major, BWV 1006 (1720): iii. Gavotte en Rondeau
Christian Tetzlaff, violin
NHK Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Paavo Järvi
NHK Hall, Tokyo, Japan, May 12, 2018
Christian Tetzlaff has been one of the most sought-after violinists and most exciting musicians on the classical music scene for many years. "The greatest performance of the work I’ve ever heard", wrote Tim Ashley (The Guardian, May 2015) of his interpretation of the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra and conductor Daniel Harding.
Concerts with Christian Tetzlaff often turn into an existential experience for both the interpreter and the audience; suddenly old familiar works appear in a completely new light. In addition, he frequently turns his attention to forgotten masterpieces such as Joseph Joachim's Violin Concerto which he successfully championed, and he also attempts to bring important new works into the repertoire such as Jörg Widmann's Violin Concerto, which he premiered in 2013. He has an unusually extensive repertoire and performs approximately 100 concerts every year.
Born in Hamburg in 1966 and now living in Berlin with his family, there are three things that make this musician unique, aside from his astounding skill on the violin. He interprets the musical manuscript in a literal fashion, perceives music as a language, and views great works as narratives which reflect existential experiences. As obvious as it may sound, he brings an unusual approach in his daily concert routine.
Christian Tetzlaff tries to follow the manuscript as closely as possible – without regard for "performance tradition" and without indulging in the usual technical short-cuts on the violin – often allowing a renewed clarity and richness to arise in well-known works. As a violinist Tetzlaff tries to disappear from the music – paradoxically this makes his interpretations very personal.
Secondly, Christian Tetzlaff "speaks" through his violin. Like human speech, his playing comprises a wide range of expressive means and is not aimed solely at achieving harmoniousness or virtuosic brilliance.
Above all, however, he interprets the masterpieces of musical history as stories about first-hand experiences. The great composers have focused on intense feelings, great happiness and deep crises in their music; as a musician Christian Tetzlaff also explores the limits of feelings and musical expression. Many pieces deal with none other than life and death. Christian Tetzlaff's aim is to convey this to his audience.
Christian Tetzlaff played in various youth orchestras for many years. His teacher at the Lübeck University of Music was Uwe-Martin Haiberg, for whom musical interpretation was the key to mastering violin technique, rather than the other way round.
Christian Tetzlaff founded his own string quartet in 1994, and until now chamber music is still as important to him as his work as a soloist with and without the orchestra.
The Tetzlaff Quartett received the Diapason d'or in 2015, and the trio with sister Tanja Tetzlaff and pianist Lars Vogt was nominated for a Grammy award. Christian Tetzlaff has also received numerous awards for his CD recordings, including the "Jahrespreis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik" in 2018, the "Diapason d'or" in July 2018 and the Midem Classical Award in 2017. The new Ondine recording of Beethoven and Sibelius violin concertos with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Robin Ticciati is highly anticipated in autumn 2019.
Of special significance is his solo recording of Bach's Sonatas and Partitas, which he has recorded for the third time and was released in September 2017. The Strad magazine praised this recording as "an attentive and lively answer to the beauty of Bach's solos".
Christian Tetzlaff plays a violin made by the German violin maker Peter Greiner and teaches regularly at the Kronberg Academy.
Karol Szymanowski: Violin Concerto No.1 – Christian Tetzlaff, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Susanna Mälkki
György Ligeti: Violin Concerto – Christian Tetzlaff, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, François-Xavier Roth (HD 1080p)
Christian Tetzlaff: “I think Sibelius did for his century what Beethoven did for his”