Apparently as highly esteemed by the public since its premiere as it is readily performed by violin virtuosos, Beethoven's only violin concerto enjoys the status of untouchability. Apparently untouchable is the romantic, self-contained approach to the interpretation, which has become established over many decades and not infrequently spreads dignified boredom, which is perceived as classically beautiful. In any case, in the case of the Violin Concerto, one does not expect the heroic battle of the Eroica or the vehemently knocking pf the fate at the door of the Fifth Symphony, i.e. the other, in these cases excepted wild side of Beethoven. Rather, the listener expects and the violin soloists and accompanying orchestra offer with the Violin Concerto a sentimental side of the Bonn composer, as it were an extension of his two Romances for Violin and Orchestra, which previously could not be missed in any Sunday afternoon concert broadcast by radio. In doing so, however, all those involved deliberately overlook the fact that Beethoven, strictly speaking, did not have a sentimental side, but that he was a wild composer under all circumstances, for whom gentleness or sentimentality serves at best as a briefly shining contrast to make his wild nature appear even wilder.
Beethoven creates wildness through a sometimes-rough gait, which he knows how to wrap skillfully in beauty. If this roughness is smoothed out, as is usually the case with the interpretations of his violin concerto documented on recordings, there is no longer any youthful fighting spirit and what remains is a Beethoven wallowing in romantic beauty with considerable potential for boredom. The new recording of Beethoven's Concerto with the now fifty-year-old Christian Tetzlaff and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin under its young boss, Robin Ticciati, shows Beethoven's true face. It comes to the listener as a thrilling, detailed crime movie, and sweeps him off his feet like a tornado. In view of the forthcoming Beethoven Year, this completely unsentimental, always energetic interpretation of Beethoven's Violin Concerto, which is bursting with drama, is nothing less than a wake-up call for violinists to rethink their own interpretation of the Beethoven Concerto. This approach is the high point for the time being in Christian Tetzlaff's understanding of this concerto. He has already embarked on the adventure of recording it twice, once with conductor Michael Gielen and later with conductor David Zinman, each time in comparatively more conventional gaits. These recordings do not yet show the tonally distinctive and focused tone that the violinist successfully cultivates in his new interpretation.
The Cultural Revolution, which Christian Tetzlaff, together with conductor Robin Ticciati, has dedicated to this interpretation of Beethoven's Violin Concerto, also sheds its bright light on the Sibelius Violin Concerto, whose jagged, enormous sound masses of the first movement, due to their extreme dynamics, almost overwhelm the listener. Instead of the darkness that not infrequently comes to the fore and obscures the overview of the sound masses, the soloist and orchestra here create airy webs and heavenly sparkling clarity that make the Nordic-colored melancholy typical of Sibelius bearable.
Both concertos, but above all the Beethoven Concerto, benefit enormously from the unbiased, unbiased, almost innovative approach of soloist and conductor to the scores of these works. One, if not the recommendation of a classical album for the year 2019 which is just coming to an end.
Christian Tetzlaff, violin
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Robin Ticciati, conductor