Tetzlaff and Ticciati: Glacial Beethoven and Sibelius Violin Concertos

Review by: David Hurwitz


Artistic Quality: 5

Sound Quality: 9

Christian Tetzlaff has recorded these two concertos before, very successfully: the Beethoven with Zinman, and the Sibelius with Dausgaard. There was no need or reason for him to do them again, and the audible results here only offer proof. These are icy cold interpretations. Of course Tetzlaff plays well, and to the extent a certain coolness benefits music of the classical period, the Beethoven comes off better than the Sibelius. Ticciati offers a crisp account of the opening ritornello, with strong contrasts in dynamics and rhythm, but once Tetzlaff enters, the performance seems to turn into an emotional abstraction. Solo and orchestra alternate mechanically, and even the cadenza, based on the one in the concerto’s piano version, with its timpani solo, sounds detached. The Larghetto projects a sort of Zen-like stasis, while the finale stubbornly fails to dance.

And that’s the good news. The Sibelius hasn’t a shred of passion or intensity. Ticciati underplays the orchestral part to the point where the big moments in the outer movements sound truly anemic. Tetzlaff fiddles away with admirable precision, but who cares? The first movement’s central cadenza passes by without making any notable impression. The lyrical climaxes in the slow movement–well, there are no lyrical climaxes in the slow movement. This is positively reptilian in its unfeeling passivity. The finale, very quick, sounds as if everyone just wants to get it over with. I was looking forward to this release, and am sorry to report that it provides more disappointment than pleasure.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Both Works: Heifetz (RCA)

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