Brahms. Joachim

COMPOSERS: Brahms. Joachim
LABELS: Virgin
ALBUM TITLE: Brahms. Joachim
WORKS: Violin Concerto. Violin Concerto No. 2 (in the Hungarian Manner)
PERFORMER: Christian Tetzlaff (violin); Danish Radio SO/Thomas Dausgaard
CATALOGUE NO: Virgin 502 1092
Here’s an unusually fresh and impressive Brahms Concerto. Right from the start, Thomas Dausgaard finds a genuine allegro that manages to flow without ever sounding pressurised. But it isn’t just the tempo: Dausgaard and Christian Tetzlaff are clearly of one mind as regards rhythm. Brahms was quite experimental rhythmically, strikingly so in this Concerto’s Hungarian‑inspired final movement. Here the articulation has a ‘sprung’ muscularity, which, when added to the lively tempo, ensures that the music powers along excitingly. But it’s far from unrelenting: conductor and soloist both know when to relax, and there are moments when the lyricism blossoms appealingly. Yet overall it’s somewhat austere. The old but magnificent-sounding 1955 Jascha Heifetz/Fritz Reiner has most of the positive qualities of this version, but with a sensuous beauty and warmth in the central slow movement that Teztlaff and Dausgaard can’t quite match. On the other hand they have little serious competition in the Joachim, and from the dark-hued beginning the playing draws the ear in. Some of Joachim’s material is strong, but beside the Brahms the weaknesses really do stand out. Quite simply, Joachim is unable to develop his ideas convincingly, and in a work of this length and purported seriousness that has to present a problem.