Christian Tetzlaff plays Brahms,
reviewed by LAWRENCE BUDMEN
The great Hungarian violinist Joseph Joachim (1831-1907) was one of the closest friends of Johannes Brahms (1833-1897). Himself a composer, Joachim was an important artistic influence on Brahms. The two men often performed and concertized together. The culmination of their special relationship was Brahms's Concerto in D for Violin and Orchestra Op 77 (1879) -- a score that was not only tailored to Joachim's virtuoso talents but was composed with his advice and counsel. Long a pillar of the violin-orchestral repertoire, the Brahms Violin Concerto received a uniquely illuminating performance by the superbly gifted German violinist Christian Tetzlaff with the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas on 16 October 2004 at the Lincoln Theater in Miami Beach, Florida, USA.
Christian Tetzlaff. Photo © Alexandra Vosding
Tetzlaff is one of the most fascinating artists on the world's concert scene. He possesses a distinctive sound and artistic personality. His tone is not large in the Russian violinistic sense; yet the pure, glistening quality of his playing and his natural, thoughtfully conceived shaping of every note and phrase is the mark of a great artist! The fiery manner in which he attacked the opening Allegro non troppo held the audience spellbound. There was elegance in his shaping of the gorgeous second subject. For once the Joachim cadenza emerged not as a flashy display but as a fluid, coherent moment in a larger musical statement. The supple, deeply eloquent phrasing that Tetzlaff brought to the Adagio was the hallmark of artistry on the most rarified level! With a beautifully articulated oboe solo by Karen Burch (which Tilson Thomas dovetailed to Tetzlaff's every musical inflection), this slow movement was the essence of soaring lyricism. Tetzlaff's rapid fire, dazzling bravura version of the concluding Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace was pure Hungarian fireworks. Rarely has the relationship between this music and Brahms's Hungarian Dances been so clear. The extended arc of Brahms's musical structure was paramount -- not a series of episodic vignettes. Tetzlaff has the ability to investigate the music's inner flame -- reinventing the score along the way. A blazing performance by an artist of rare insight and musicianship!
Copyright © 31 October 2004
Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA