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Berg • Brahms: Violin Concertos

Christian Tetzlaff (violin); Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin/Robin Ticciati (Ondine)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Berg • Brahms
Berg: Violin Concerto ‘To the Memory of an Angel’; Brahms: Violin Concerto
Christian Tetzlaff (violin); Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin/Robin Ticciati
Ondine ODE 1410-2    71:08 mins


In his booklet notes, the violinist Christian Tetzlaff points out that he has played these two central pillars of the concerto repertoire literally hundreds of times, and his intimate knowledge of every corner of the music certainly shows in his performances. His remarks on the autobiographical content of the Berg are fascinating, and although many of his points are well known to Berg scholars – the encoded references to the composer’s secret love for the sister of the writer Franz Werfel, the nostalgic recalling of an early affair with a Carinthian serving-girl, and so on – some details he provides there are new.

Tetzlaff is more closely recorded in the Berg Concerto than James Ehnes is on the Chandos version (see review in Orchestral), and the greater immediacy of sound bears fruit in such moments as the furioso scrubbing at the start of the finale. But the last orchestral chord sounds too loud. It’s true that the high-pitched flutes make Berg’s prescribed pianissimo hard to achieve, but this moment is more successfully realised on the new Chandos recording.

Tetzlaff’s approach to the opening movement of the Brahms Concerto is quite free and rhapsodic, particularly in the tranquillopassage following the cadenza, and he is greatly helped throughout by the sympathetic partnership of the Berlin Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester under Robin Ticciati: their mysterious ppp playing in the central development section is quite striking.

In the slow movement the first oboist casts a warm glow over the music. Tetzlaff gives a sparkling account of the finale, and his rapidspiccato playing in that movement has remarkable clarity.


Misha Donat