Beethoven: Violin Concerto; Romances Nos 1 & 2; Violin Concerto in C – fragment

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: NAIVE
WORKS: Violin Concerto; Romances Nos 1 & 2; Violin Concerto in C – fragment
PERFORMER: Patricia Kopatchinskaja (violin); Orchestre des Champs-Élysées/Philippe Herreweghe
CATALOGUE NO: V 5174

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Patricia Kopatchinskaja’s warmly recorded account of the Beethoven Violin Concerto must be one of the most stimulating and provocative that has ever been committed to disc. Studying the composer’s autograph has inspired her to provide a radically different interpretation of the work to the one most people will be familiar with.

There are some very noticeable changes to both notation and articulation which take account of some of Beethoven’s suggested alternatives for certain passages, especially in the first movement. Kopatchinskaja has also taken to heart anecdotal evidence regarding the delicate and extremely tender playing style of the work’s original performer, Franz Clement.

She opts therefore to interpret the solo part with a very light, almost wispy sound, using a fluid almost operatic style in the recitative passages that follow the big orchestral tuttis. Superbly supported by Philippe Herreweghe and his expert period-instrument orchestra, she maintains a flowing tempo throughout each movement, yet is sufficiently flexible in her playing to accommodate rubato in the most expressive parts of the work.

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Arguably the most controversial aspect of her performance, however, occurs in the cadenza where she presents a brilliant and dazzling transcription of the one Beethoven composed for the piano arrangement of the concerto, and resorts to overdubbing in places to accommodate the cascade of notes that were present in the original. Purists will no doubt regard this as something of a gimmick. Yet Kopatchinskaja manages to bring it off quite brilliantly, and the duel that rages between the violin and solo timpani is startlingly effective.