Friday, 29 April 2005

Older and wiser. I had not even one recording from Christian Tetzlaff until I recorded a Wigmore Hall recital that took place a few days ago with Tetzlaff and Leif Ove Andsnes. Quite outstanding and, given the presence of the entirely admirable Andsnes, a true duo recital. They played Beethoven's Op 30 No.1, Mozart's K 306, Grieg's third sonata, and the Shostakovich sonata. An excellent recital with both artists firing on all cylinders.
It is interesting that Tetzlaff's nice sounds came from a three-year old German violin; he apparently believes that modern instruments are fully equal to most older ones, and puts his beliefs into practice. Convincingly.

Tuesday, 26 April 2005

Halfway through the complete Bach unaccompanied sonatas and partitas by Julia Fischer. So far I have heard first and second sonatas, plus the first partita. I must admit to some disappointment, and listening is heavy-going -- partly because anything marked "adagio" or "andante" is taken very slowly indeed; the marvellous andante of the second sonata seems to go on for ever, as do the first movements of both sonatas. The violin playing is, of course, breathtaking. But as previous violinists such as Johanna Martzy and Alfredo Campoli have shown, beautiful playing and beautiful tone are simply not enough. The music needs to come alive, dances need to be rhythmic, the music should never be allowed to drag (the first partita goes on and on even longer than usual). When listening to Fischer, I pine for the versions of Kavakos, of Milstein, of Mullova -- or even the underestimated Lara St John.

Sunday, 24 April 2005

Once again, most impressed with Frank Peter Zimmermann, in a broadcast from the 2005 Schwetzingen Festival (with Enrico Pace on the piano). Two Bach duo sonatas, the second Busoni sonata, and the third Brahms sonata make up an excellent, classical 79 minute programme. Zimmermann (now aged 40) turns out to be an excellent classical violinist of the Central European school.
Less impressed with a CD devoted to Manuel Quiroga (from Carlos). Puzzling to find that many of the "giants" of the past had distinct technical failings. Quiroga had a lovely tone; but his technique was fallible which makes for some uncomfortable listening.

Saturday, 9 April 2005

On 7th April (concert from Manchester) I recorded a very fine Brahms violin concerto by Victoria Mullova (with Hallé Orchestra under Mark Elder). Straightforward, fiery, no wallowing, immaculate playing; just the kind of violin playing I like. I think that Mullova and Kavakos are probably two of the most under-rated violinists playing today. Fortunately, the BBC seems to like them. The Mullova Brahms makes a fine coupling with last year's excellent Proms performance of the Sibelius concerto. A good CD !