Surprise, the star attraction here is the dazzling Joachim c
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 03/14/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Without putting himself forward as a "personality" virtuoso like Joshua Bell, Christian Tetzlaff has earned astonished reviews for his almost unearthly accuracy, evenness of tone, and musical integrity. Perhaps best known as a Bach player, Tetzlaff seems unassuming on stage, in contrast to his remarkable ability, even in the current field of virtuosos, to hit every note dead center, tossing off pyrotechnics without a blemish, and sustaining the same gorgeous tone from the top of the violin's range to the bottom. I'm a huge fan.
So I'm sorry to build Tetzlaff up on purely technical grounds, but his new pairing of the Brahms and Joachim conertos is slightly disappointing artistically. The Brahms D major is so familiar that to make a strong impression, the soloist must assert a point of view -- perfect playing isn't enough, even at this Olympian level. Tetzlaff is strong in every respect except originality. The slow movement in particular lacks sufficient intensity and depth of emotion -- he stands back from Brahms's fervency instead of plunging into it. Thomas Dausgaard provides energetic, buoyant accompaniment that feels somewhat shallow, and the Danish Radio Orch., though polished, sounds fairly provincial.
It was imaginative to fill out the program with Joachim's seldom recorded and even less seldom concertized concerto. The idiom is romatnic sub-Brahms, the harmonies no more adventurous than Mendelssohn or early Dvorak. The main theme of the slow movement is Hungarian but not fiery; the finale a whirling csardas that remains polite. But whatever it lacks in greatness, the Joachim is a fiddler's dream, full of technical challenges that Tetzlaff eats alive. He holds the work together through his roulades, trills, and double stops -- sometimes all three at once. The same is true to a lesser extent in the Brahms, but a masterpiece demands more.
I can see others giving this CD five stars -- especially anyone who has been floored by Tetzlaff's concert appearances. I'm sitting on the fence, pointing to the Joachim, however, as an undisputed triumph."