Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 61; cadenzas

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Biddulph
WORKS: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 61; cadenzas
PERFORMER: Ruggiero Ricci (violin); Orchestra del Chianti/Piero Bellugi
CATALOGUE NO: LAW 017 DDD
In the Indian summer of his distinguished career, Ricci keeps alive the flame of the virtuoso violin tradition. Recent concerts with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra have shown that in his late seventies he lacks neither technique nor charisma, and this Beethoven recording has an excellent sense of line and phrasing.

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Although the first movement suffers from a lack of definition in the orchestral sound, the Larghetto is beautifully poised, while the finale has the required vitality. But in truth the interest here lies more in the accumulation of the numerous cadenzas for the work that have been written from the early 19th century through to the present day. Schnittke’s recent version is most dramatic, managing to include quotes from concertos by Berg, Brahms and Bartók.

With 14 cadenzas on offer, clear cue-points are a necessity, and the notes offer advice on how those in command of the technology can programme the version of their choice. The cadenza placed within the performance itself is misleadingly attributed to Beethoven, whereas in fact it is Wolfgang Schneiderhan’s highly successful arrangement of the composer’s own piano transcription.

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This fascinating disc offers many insights into the violinist’s art, featuring a soloist who brings special insights into the nature of virtuoso technique. Terry Barfoot